Eight energy grants and freebies to claim now as bills could hit £5,000 | The Sun

MILLIONS of households are entitled to hundreds in energy bill support this winter, but some could get more than others.

And with energy bills now predicted to hit £5,000 in April, it's worth knowing what you can get.

On Monday, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the Energy Price Guarantee, which limits average bills to £2,500, will come to an end in the spring – one year and six months earlier than planned.

It could mean millions will see their energy bills soar once the guarantee is up.

It comes as the new Chancellor announced a number of mega mini-Budget U-turns yesterday in a bid to calm markets.

Regulator Ofgem has yet to set the energy price cap for April amid uncertainty about what will happen to the wholesale cost of gas.

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But consultancy firm Auxilione forecasts that average bills could hit £5,078 and RBC Capital Markets predicts £4,684 a year.

Thousands in cash support is already being dished out by the state – but how much you'll get will depend on your personal circumstances.

For example, every household is eligible for a £400 energy bill discount but only those on Universal Credit and other benefits can claim the £650 cost of living payment.

Energy suppliers also offer direct support to their customers.

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This could be through the provision of free energy-saving products like electric blankets or solar panels.

Several firms also offer cash grants worth up to £1,500 through their hardship funds.

We've listed all the help available below and explained who is eligible and whether you need to apply.

Support from energy suppliers

Up to £1,500 in cash grants

There are plenty of energy grants and schemes open to help you out if you're struggling.

British Gas recently confirmed that it'll pay its most vulnerable customers grants worth £750 to help with sky-high bills.

And the British Gas Energy Trust pays hard-up households up to £1,500 – and it doesn't matter if they're not a British Gas customer.

Ask your supplier what's on offer and how to apply, or check here:

  • British Gas Energy Trust
  • Bulb energy fund
  • EDF's energy customer support fund
  • E.on's energy fund
  • Octopus Energy Octo Assist fund
  • Ovo's debt and energy assistance
  • Scottish Power's hardship fund

There's also a one-off fuel voucher from your energy supplier if you're on a prepayment metre.

We've already listed the detailed eligibility criteria for each scheme.

Free £150

Shell Energy will be giving thousands of customers an extra £150 to help them this winter.

The energy giant will be boosting the £150 warm home discount payment to £300 for all 157,000 customers who get the help.

You'll get the top-up if you received certain benefits and joined Shell Energy on or before August 21 this year.

The warm home discount is available to those on the lowest incomes to help with rising costs.

You'll need to be a recipient of one or more of the following benefits to qualify for the automatic £150 discount:

  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • Income-related employment and support allowance
  • Housing benefit
  • Universal credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Working tax credits
  • Pension credit guaranteed
  • Pension credit savings credit

£50 fuel vouchers

If you're on a prepayment meter you might be able to get a one-off voucher to top up.

The fuel voucher scheme comes via the Fuel Bank Foundation charity, and it's offered through a range of organisations, like food banks and Citizens Advice.

The best place to start to find somewhere which can offer you a fuel voucher is by asking your local council – you can find yours via gov.uk by searching your postcode.

The voucher should help you cover around two weeks' worth of electricity use.

Some energy companies may also issue their own vouchers, so ask your supplier directly.

£10 emergency credit

Energy companies usually offer emergency credit, though you will have to pay this back.

British Gas recently doubled the amount customers can get in an emergency due to the cost of living crisis.

The supplier said households with a top-up key or card will now be able to go £10 into debt before they're cut off.

Smart meter customers will still have a £5 limit, but the company is looking to roll the increase out to these households too.

How much you get and how it's applied will depend on who your supplier is.

It might be added to your meter when you fall below a certain amount or you might have to ask for it.

You might get extra if you are vulnerable, for example if you have a health condition or are over state pension age.

You'll have to repay the cash next time you top up, but you can speak to your supplier about how much you'll pay back and over what time.

Free electric blankets

Octopus is dishing out free electric blankets this winter to help customers keep warm while bills stay high.

You'll have to apply to see if you qualify on the Octopus website and there are 10,000 blankets up for grabs.

That's more than last year when Octopus launched the scheme, when 8,000 were given out to customers.

Blankets will only be available to people who will benefit from them the most.

This is likely to include elderly people, or those with specific medical conditions which make them immobile, very unwell, or feel cold.

Around 5,000 extra customers will be able to get a discount for an electric blanket from Dreamland if they don't qualify for a free one.

It costs 24p to run an electric blanket for one hour a day for seven days.

And if you used it for one hour a day for a year, you'd be spending £12.48 on your electricity.

Free boiler

You could get a brand new boiler installed free of charge from your energy company if you are on a low income, or considered a vulnerable customer.

Some suppliers offer the freebie, but their eligibility criteria may vary.

E.on, for example, is offering new boilers under its Affordable Warmth scheme – but you need to receive some benefits to qualify, and have an income below £18,500 if you're single or £25,500 if you're a couple.

British Gas, EDF Energy, Scottish Power, and SSE have versions of the grant for their customers too.

But not many providers let you apply online, so you need to call direct to get started.

Government and council support

£400 energy bill discount

Millions of households started to receive a £400 energy bill discount from October 1.

The payment will be dished out by your energy supplier and will be split across six discounts between October and March next year.

Households will receive a £66 energy bill discount in October and November and a discount worth £67 in December, January, February and March.

We've listed how the leading energy suppliers plan to pay households.

British Gas, EDF Energy, Ovo Energy and Scottish Power plans to send the cash directly into customer bank accounts.

The way you'll be paid will depend on how you pay for your energy.

If you're on a credit meter or smart prepayment meter the discount will come off your bills or be credited to your account automatically.

Those on traditional prepayment meters will receive the discount through a voucher.

Check with your supplier to confirm how you'll receive the cash.

£650 cost of living payment

Millions of households have been paid the first part of their £650 cost of living payment.

Around eight million payments have already been made to help hard-up households to help them pay for spiralling bills and essentials.

And those on the following benefits are eligible for the second payment worth £324:

  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit

The second payment will be paid between November 8 and 23.

The cash will automatically land in the bank account that people use to receive their benefits.

But those receiving tax credits will be paid after November 23.

The government is paying tax credit claimants later than those getting DWP benefits like Universal Credit to avoid paying anyone twice.

Anyone who claims both types of the benefit – child tax credit and working tax credit – will have the payment made into the bank account where child tax credits are paid.

£300 pensioner cost of living payment

In November, a £300 one-off "Pensioner Cost of Living Payment" will be paid out to eight million households.

It will be given to those who already get the winter fuel payment, worth between £100 and £300 for those over state pension age.

To qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment and Pensioner Cost of Living Payment, the following must apply:

  • You were born on or before 25 September 1956
  • You lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 19 to 25 September 2022 – this is called the ‘qualifying week’

£150 Warm Home Discount

Millions of households are in line to get a £150 discount off their energy bills between December and March 2023.

You'll be eligible for the automatic discount if you received any of the following benefits up to August 21 this year:

  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • Income-related employment and support allowance
  • Housing benefit
  • Universal Credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Working tax credits
  • Pension credit guaranteed
  • Pension credit savings credit

The Department for Work and Pensions, which is overseeing the scheme, will send you a letter in October to confirm if you'll get the payment later on in the year.

Payments for the £150 Warm Home Discount scheme will likely begin in December.

It's up to individual energy companies to decide when they will give their customers the discount.

£150 household support fund

Local councils are giving out cash to help households struggling with bills and other essential costs.

How much you can get depends on where you live and in many areas.

To qualify you'll usually need to be a recipient of council tax support.

You can search for yours using the search tool on gov.uk – just enter your postcode.

Local councils also offer welfare assistance schemes all year round that can help you with bills.

£75 cold weather payments

When temperatures plummet those in low-income households can get a £25 payment.

These cold weather payments have already been made in several locations where residents have experienced below zero weather.

The payment is made automatically, including to those on Universal Credit, for each seven-day period of low temperatures between November 1 and March 31.

In the coldest areas three £25 payments have been made so far this winter, adding up to £75 in total.

Free solar panels

Some councils give low-income households money to put towards making their home greener.

If you meet the right eligibility criteria you will be able to have your home fitted with measures that could save hundreds on your energy bills, all free of charge.

Some councils offer households grants to install solar panels, which can cost around £6,000.

The Sun spoke to pensioner Gareth Hodgson, who applied for tens of thousands of pounds of FREE home improvements that have nearly halved his bills.

The help you can get from your local council varies depending on a number of factors including your personal circumstances.

In most areas, homeowners must have a total income of less than £30,000 to get the help.

Your home must have an EPC rating of D, E, F or G for you to be eligible too.

You can get free debt advice

If you're in debt there are plenty of services you can take advantage of and they offer free advice on how to manage debt.

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Most of them can offer you free guidance and help in person, over the telephone or online.

  • Money Helper – 0800 138 7777
  • Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060
  • StepChange – 0800 138 1111
  • National Debtline – 0808 808 4000

They can also help you take the next steps if you need a debt management plan (DMP) to tackle your debt or an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA). These are agreements for managing multiple debts.

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