The one thing most of us are worrying about this winter is the cost of energy and how we can afford to heat our homes.
If you’re struggling with your bills and wondering whether you should even put the heating on, you’re not alone. With the average bill for a medium-sized house rising to about £2,500, it’s still a major increase that will affect many people over the next few months. Not only that, there’s yet another expected rise to come in April.
The good news is there is some help for struggling households, including the Energy Bills Support Scheme. This provides eligible domestic properties in England, Scotland and Wales with a £400 discount on their bills over this winter.
Here’s our quick guide to what the payment schedule looks like and how it is going to be paid.
The payment scheme is aimed at all households in England, Scotland and Wales that have a domestic electricity supply. Northern Ireland has a similar £400 discount system in place. About 1% of properties (including mobile homes) do not have a domestic electricity meter or a connection to a supplier but similar funding can be accessed.
The discount is available whether you decide to switch suppliers, change your tariff or your payment method. Even if you are behind on your current bills you will get the £400 discount.
The Energy Bills Support Scheme will be paid in instalments over the winter. In most cases, there is nothing that you need to do because the discount will be applied automatically. The first of these, a payment of £66, should have been processed in the first weeks of October and November. Subsequent payments of £67 will be made over the next few months.
How you receive the payment will depend on how you pay your bill. If you have set up a direct debit then either your debit payment will be reduced or you will have a refund paid into your bank account after your debit has been processed.
If you normally pay by debit or credit card, then the discount will be applied to your account in the first week of each month. You can check this has gone through by logging onto your account online or through the provider’s app.
For those with a smart prepayment meter, the discount will also be applied automatically. If you have a traditional prepayment meter, you will either get a voucher to redeem the discount or receive an automatic update to your account when you go to your usual top-up point.
If you are renting and paying for your utilities as part of your rent, then you need to confirm with your landlord that the discount is being passed onto you.
There is some more support for those who are on lower incomes and it’s important to find out whether you qualify or not. This includes:
While it’s not enough for many people, it’s important to get the financial support you are entitled to take the edge of spiralling bills. You might also like to check out our practical guide to saving money on your utilities this winter.
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