Help with energy costs: Grants and benefits to support you with rising gas and electricity bills

If you're struggling with rising bills, then there may be some help with energy costs that you can tap into

Child playing near radiator
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re one of the millions of households struggling with the latest increase to your energy bill, then make sure you take advantage of the help available. 

The energy crisis means gas and electricity costs continue to rise. The latest energy price cap announced by Ofgem on 3 February 2022 means you will pay almost £700 more for your bills as the latest cap was set to £1,971 - up from £1,277.  That's a 54% increase. Be aware that this figure is illustrative and an average based on typical use. The exact amount you will pay depends on your energy usage. 

According to think-tank Resolution Foundation, the number of families in fuel poverty will soar by 200% now the new cap is in effect. Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed that single adult households on low incomes will shell out a massive 54% of their income on gas and electricity bills as energy costs rise this year. 

Although the chancellor introduced a raft of measures, which includes an energy bill and council tax rebate, to help take the pressure off households with rising energy costs, there may be other help available too. 

Here is everything you need to know.

Get help with energy costs from your local council

Contact your local council (opens in new tab) to see if you qualify for financial support via their Household Support Fund or welfare assistance schemes. If you are claiming Universal Credit and other benefits you could get extra support on top.

It may be called welfare support funds, emergency support or welfare provision depending on your council, but most have money set aside to distribute to those in need. 

Birmingham council (opens in new tab), for example, gives up to £90 for energy costs and up to £300 for furniture. 

This is a cash grant that you do not have to pay back, but you can only receive it once within a 12-month period.

DO I QUALIFY FOR STATE BENEFITS TO HELP WITH ENERGY COSTS?

If you meet the eligibility criteria, the Warm Home Discount scheme can provide a £140 discount on your winter energy bill. 

The one-off grant is paid by your energy supplier if you are on low income, on certain benefits or on pension credit. Providers British Gas, EDF, Scottish Power and Bulb, E.on, E.on Next and So Energy are no longer accepting applicants as the grants are limited each year. 

You will get the discount automatically if you are on pension credit and your supplier goes bust. If you are part of the broader group which is normally eligible for the discount and your supplier goes bust, you may be moved to a new supplier that doesn’t offer the discount. Check with your provider if you can reapply. 

Note that the Warm Home Discount Scheme will be back for the winter of 2022/2023 and applications will re-open in September 2022.

Winter Fuel Payments (opens in new tab) are available if you receive the state pension or get another social security benefit. 

Cold Weather Payments are for people who live in areas where the average temperature in their area is recorded as zero degrees celsius or below over seven consecutive days.

In Scotland, an additional pot of £10m will also be made available to those struggling to pay their fuel bills via the Fuel Insecurity Fund. Details are yet to be announced.

If you work from home, don’t forget the working from home tax relief (opens in new tab) worth up to £280 per person. It takes just a few minutes to claim via the government website - all you need is your government gateway ID. 

FINANCIAL HELP FROM ENERGY FIRMS

Talk to your provider if you're struggling with energy bills. They will talk you through options and can offer advice. Anyone already struggling to pay their bills amid the current crisis must be supported. 

For example, Octopus Energy must ensure that any debt repayment plans Avro Energy customers may have been on are respected. If your energy firm goes bust, speak to the new supplier to have this confirmed.  

Bulb told us it assesses a customer's situation on a case-by-case basis and do what it can to be flexible, including alternative payment methods and longer repayment periods.

Greg Jackson, chief executive of Octopus Energy, has said his company will help people struggling to pay their bills. He told radio station LBC: “Where people do their very best, companies like ours will work with them to get payment plans in place, to provide some assistance, to work with them on their whole income and expenditure.”

If you are in debt to your energy supplier there are grants from charitable trusts to help pay it off. British Gas Energy Trust (opens in new tab) offers help to anyone - you don’t have to be a customer. Firms such as Scottish Power Hardship Fund (opens in new tab) , Ovo Debt and energy assistance (opens in new tab), E.on Energy Fund (opens in new tab) and EDF Energy Customer Support Fund (opens in new tab) offer grants to their customer. 

Meanwhile, the Bulb Energy Fund (opens in new tab)will open in late spring and will offer its eligible customers a £140 grant, write off energy debts up to £2,000 and energy efficient appliances.

WHAT CHARITIES COULD HELP ME WITH ENERGY COSTS?

Debt advice charity StepChange (opens in new tab) also offers free, impartial guidance. It is worth speaking to someone if you have no way of paying your bills, as they may be able to help come up with repayments plans and speak to your energy supplier for you. 

READ MORE: The Wallace family have cut their energy consumption by 30% with targeted heating, dehumidifiers, logs and a new laundry technique. Plus 17 tips to cut energy costs

Additional reporting by PA

Katie is staff writer at The Money Edit. She was the former staff writer at The Times and The Sunday Times. Her experience includes writing about personal finance, culture, travel and interviews celebrities.  Her investigative work on financial abuse resulted in a number of mortgage prisoners being set free - and a nomination for the Best Personal Finance Story of the Year in the Headlinemoney awards 2021.