As we get our first cold snap during this worrying cost of living crisis, HoardingUK has put together a round up of help available, if you’re struggling with bills.
This could be subject to change and is non-exhaustive.
Please also note we are not experts. we are just trying to help!
We would suggest you speak to any organisation you owe money to, or think you might struggle to pay, at the earliest opportunity. They might let you pay in smaller amounts or allow you to take a break from payments.
If you are one of the following, we would suggest you check if you are eligible for extra help, even if you are working:
- Struggling to afford essentials
- Sick or disabled
- Not working
- Working on a low income
- A pensioner on a low income
- A carer
- Responsible for children
1. Contact Your Council
They might help you pay for things like food, your energy bills or essential items. You can even get grants to pay for things like a new oven or fridge.
This is known as welfare assistance or the household support fund. Every council runs their own scheme and the help they offer, and who gets it, varies.
2. Council Tax
If you’re struggling with your Council Tax or think you might struggle in the future, it’s important to discuss this sooner rather than later.
Check you are receiving any discounts you are entitled to, such as a single person discount, but you might also receive a reduction if you have a low income.
Each council runs a discretionary hardship scheme if you can show you’re suffering severe hardship.
3. Cold Weather Payment.
This is a scheme operating between the 1st November 2022 and 31st March 2023. You’ll get £25 if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecasted to be zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days.
Cold weather payments do not affect your other benefits.
You do not need to apply – this should be paid automatically. Tell the Pension Service or Jobcentre Plus if you think should receive this and have not. If you’re getting Universal Credit you can add a note to your journal.
4. Winter Fuel Payment
If you were born before 26th September 1956 you could get between £250 and £600 to help with your heating bills. This should be paid automatically and (at the time of writing) you should have heard by letter how much you will get.
If you think you should receive this but have not been notified, you can ring the Winter Fuel Payment Centre on 0800 731 0160.
The deadline to claim is 31st March 2023.
5. Warm Home Discount Scheme
You could get £150 which comes directly off your electricity bill. If you have not received this discount, or a letter about this discount, and think you may be eligible, call 0800 107 8002 before 28th February 2023.
6. Water Rates Low Income Discounts
Most water companies offer a low-income rate to those earning less than £17,000 per year (£20,000 in London). They do not advertise this and you will need to provide evidence, but you could receive a 50% discount on your annual bill.
7. Priority Services Register
Energy companies have a register of customers who would be at most risk if their energy was cut off. This includes older people, people with illnesses or disabilities and families with young children.
By joining this register you will receive free extra services and, most importantly, protection from disconnection if you’re struggling to pay bills.
Ask your energy company if you can be added to their register – each energy supplier will have a slightly different application process.
8. Phones & Internet – SocialTariffs
Social tariffs are cheaper broadband and phone packages available to those on low incomes.
Companies offering social tariffs include:-
Ask your provider if they offer a social tariff and you should be able to switch. If you do not you can switch to one that does. They might let you leave your current contract without a penalty fee, owing to the circumstances.
9. Borrowing Money to Pay Bills/Debt
We cannot offer financial or legal advice, but if you’ve contacted the organisations you owe money to and still need to borrow money:
- You will likely end up paying more, due to interest.
- Check if the lender is on the FCA register. If they are not, don’t borrow money from them.
- Speak to your local credit union. These are fantastic organisations who may lend to you, even if you have been rejected elsewhere. The lending decisions are made by humans, not algorithms, and they will lend you money in a responsible and affordable manner.