How to get help if you’re struggling to pay your winter bills

Monday, 13 September 20214 minute read
Pure Planet

If you’re struggling to pay your winter bills, help is available from your energy supplier, through government schemes and from organisations and charities.

Autumn leaves falling from a tree

Photo by Matt on Unsplash

If you’re worried about paying your gas and electricity bills over the colder winter months, please don’t suffer in silence. You’re not alone, and help is available. In this blog, we explain where you can get support and advice, from your energy supplier, through government schemes and from organisations and charities.

Let your energy supplier know

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills please let us know so we can help. To get in touch with the team, tap Help in the app, then ‘Ask a question’ and let WattBot know you’re struggling to pay your bills.

We’re proud to work with ReachOUT, to offer support and guidance to our Members. That might include creating a personalised action plan, signposting debt advice, or setting up a payment plan to help you get back on track.

Read more: How to give your Pure Planet account a health check

Apply for the Warm Home Discount

The Warm Home Discount is a government scheme that helps those who might struggle to pay their energy bills in the colder winter months. If you qualify, you’ll get a one-off energy credit of £140 applied to your account before the end of March 2022.

If you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, there’s nothing you need to do – you should receive a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) before the end of 2021.

You may still qualify for the discount under the ‘Broader group’, but will need to check the criteria first and submit an application.

Applications for the Warm Home Discount 2021/22 are open now, and you can check whether you’re eligible for the scheme here.

Claim the Winter Fuel Payment

If you were born on or before 26 September 1955 you could get between £100 and £300 to help pay your heating bill. The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual one-off payment – most people will get their payment automatically if eligible.

For more information on the Winter Fuel Payment, to check your eligibility or make a claim, visit GOV.UK.

Check your eligibility for Cold Weather Payments

If the average temperature in your area drops to zero degrees celsius or below for 7 consecutive days, between 1 November and 31 March, you might be eligible to receive a Cold Weather Payment.

You’ll usually get Cold Weather Payments if you receive:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Support for Mortgage Interest

If you’re eligible, Cold Weather Payments will be paid automatically.

For more information on Cold Weather Payments, and to check your eligibility, visit GOV.UK.

Pay your debt through your benefits

The Fuel Direct Scheme allows you to repay a fixed amount automatically from your benefits to cover debt and your current use.

To be eligible for the Fuel Direct Scheme, you’ll need to receive one of the following benefits:

  • Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit (if you’re not working)

If you’d like to set up Fuel Direct, you’ll need to contact the Jobcentre first. They’ll then liaise with your energy supplier.

Get debt advice

There are also a number of charities and organisations out there who can give you debt advice, support and tips.

Citizens Advice England: 0800 144 8848 Scotland: 0800 028 1456 Wales: 0800 702 2020 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)

Stepchange Debt Charity
0800 138 1111 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, Saturday 8am to 4pm)

National Debtline 0808 808 4000 (Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, Saturday 9.30am to 1pm)

You can also find help and advice at: Ofgem, the energy regulator Energy Saving Trust Centre for sustainable energy Energy Helpline

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