Many people in the UK are vulnerable to fuel poverty. Although the problem is widespread, government help schemes centre mainly on the elderly or disabled, who may be less mobile, and therefore often spend more time in their homes and need to keep them warmer than many would. Those on pensions or with little or no income can struggle to find the money to keep their homes at a healthy temperature. Fuel poverty increases vulnerable people’s risk of a range of illnesses such as heart-attacks and hypothermia.
The idea is that these schemes allow those at risk to keep their homes warm by helping them pay their heating bills. They might not shell out huge amounts of cash, but they could help reduce the pressure when money’s tight and the weather is terrible!
Warm Home Discount Scheme
The Warm Home Discount Scheme gives pensioners at risk of fuel poverty a one-off discount of £140 on an their energy bills between October and April. Most elderly people claiming pension credit are eligible, if their energy provider is part of the scheme. It must be reapplied for each year.
No-one’s going to get rich off this payment, but it is the equivalent of a couple of months’ bills, which could help if money’s tight! £140 could be a considerable chunk if you consider that (figures correct as of August 2016) the average monthly bill is £61 for a small house or flat with one or two bedrooms and one or two occupants – and considerably higher for larger households.
Cold Weather Payment
If you’re on certain benefits, you will be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment of £25 for each 7-day period of very cold weather between November and April. This is designed to cushion the blow of increased spending on heating when the external template is low.
If the temperature where you live is recorded as – or predicted to be – below 0°C for seven consecutive days, you will be eligible for the discount off your energy bill.
Winter Fuel Payment
The Winter Fuel Payment is paid automatically each year to people over a certain age. It is a tax-free one-off payment of £100-300 to help pay heating bills.
There’s a qualifying week each year, normally in September. During that week you must be over a certain age to claim the payment. The qualifying date of birth is published online each year. For Winter 2016-17, those born before 6 August 1953 were eligible.
If you’re an eligible age and claim a state pension, you should be paid automatically. If not, you might have to make a claim. Most payments are made automatically between November and December.
If you would like to get help to install an energy saving improvement, just fill out our contact form and we will be in touch!