All the energy bill help still available as freezing temperatures and snow to hit UK

STORMS have passed but more bad weather is on the way with snow and freezing temperatures set to hit parts of the country.

It means many of us will be putting the heating on more adding to worries around rising energy bill prices.

But there's help you can get to cover the cost of heating your home this winter.

Here we explain what's available, who can get it and how.

Cold weather payments – up to £25 a week

You could be entitled to £25 a week if the temperature drops below zero in your area between November 1 and March 31, to help you pay for the increased energy costs.

The temperature will have to stay that low for seven consecutive days before the cold weather payment is handed out.

The payment has already been triggered in dozens of postcodes – find out which ones here.

You must already be getting certain benefits to qualify, including pension credit, income support, jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, and Universal Credit.

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You won't qualify if you are in a care home or subject to immigration control.

You don't need to apply for the extra payment – it's paid automatically into your bank or building society account within 14 days of the cold spell ending.

Council tax rebate – £150

Millions of households will be getting a £150 council tax rebate this April to help cover the cost of rising bills.

Those in council tax bands A to D will get the cash – around 80% of homes.

You can find out which band you're in by using the government's search tool – you just need to enter your postcode.

You'll get the cash if you're in England and in the A-D bands for council tax.

Council tax is devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but there are similar schemes in place.

Those who qualify for the £150 rebate will get the payment automatically – you won't have to apply.

Payments will start in April and you won't have to give the money back.

The government says it expects the vast majority of people to get payments in April.

Councils will make the payments automatically where they hold bank details, or will contact households to arrange a payment method if they don't.

If you live in band E-H you won't be eligible for the council tax rebate.

You could challenge your council tax band if you think it's wrong so you don't miss out on the cash.

But beware a revaluation of your band could put you in a lower band where you pay MORE council tax, so consider the risks – you can read more in our guide.

For those not eligible, there's a separate £144million fund and local councils can dish out up to £150 to vulnerable and low income households.

You'll have to apply directly to get the cash – you can search for your local council using the search tool on gov.uk – just enter your postcode.

Winter fuel payments – up to £300

Pensioners can receive annual one-off winter fuel payments from the government of between £100 and £300.

You'll qualify for the payout, you'll need to have been born before September 26 1955 – the date changes every year.

You must also have lived in the UK for at least one day during the "qualifying week". For this winter, it fell between September 20 and 26 2021.

The money is tax-free and won't affect any other benefits that you get, such as Universal Credit.

How much you get depends on your circumstances, such as whether or not you live alone.

Your payment may be different if you or your partner get one of the following benefits:

  • Pension credit
  • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related employment and support allowance (ESA)
  • Income support

The payments are made automatically, usually between November and December.

If you claim any other benefits, you'll get your Winter Fuel Payment at the same time as your regular benefits at this time of year.

If you're entitled to the payout but didn't receive the cash by January 14 2022 then you should contact the helpline on 0800 7310160 from England, Scotland and Wales.

You have until March 31, 2022 to make a claim for the missed payment.

You'll also need to apply if you qualify and you are not getting a social security benefit, such as the state pension, you will need to make a claim.

You can apply by visiting the winter fuel payment website.

You'll need your national insurance number, the date of your marriage or civil partnership and your bank details to hand.

Warm home discount – up to £140 a year

The warm home discount is a one-off £140 payment which is designed to help with the cost of your electricity bill through winter.

Unfortunately the scheme has now closed for this year to those who had to apply.

It's offered directly by energy suppliers, though not all participate, and it will open again next winter from around September.

There are two sets of people who are eligible.

The core group, which is anyone who gets the guarantee credit element of pension credit and is named on the bill – they should automatically qualify for this benefit.

You'll receive a letter between October and December 2020 informing you that you're on the scheme.

You will have been asked to confirm your details by calling the helpline before February 26, 2021.

If you think you're eligible but never received a letter – phone the warm home discount scheme helpline on 0800 731 0214 to check.

You should do this as soon as possible, as the DWP may not be able to help if a claim is submitted too late.

You have to apply if you're in the broader group.

You may be in this if you don't meet the "core group" criteria, and are eligible under your supplier's "broader group" rules.

Each provider has different criteria, so you should check carefully to see if it applies to you.

But unfortunately you won't be able to apply to get it this year, if you haven't already, as the scheme has closed.

There's still other help you can get from your supplier and others though.

Grants and help from energy companies

Energy suppliers are offering cash grants to those hardest hit by bills rises.

For instance British Gas is giving out up to £750 through its new new hardship fund.

But the amount can vary according to your supplier and your circumstances.

The help is usually available to those on low incomes, on the benefits or those struggling with bills, so it's worth checking if you could qualify.

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

  • Bulb energy fund
  • EDF's energy customer support fund
  • E.on's energy fund
  • Npower's energy fund
  • Ovo's debt and energy assistance
  • Scottish Power's hardship fund

The conditions of each scheme vary, so contact your energy provider to find out more.

If you need help, make sure you speak to your provider to see what they can do.

If you have a prepayment meter and you can’t top up – either because you are isolating or because you can’t afford to – your energy provider must help you.

For instance, it can let someone else top up for you, send you a pre-loaded top-up card, or increase your emergency credit limit.

Contact your supplier if you think you will need help.

Grants to clear your arrears and pay bills

You might be able to get help from your local authority through "housing renewal insurance" or through local welfare provision schemes.

You can apply for a grant to pay off arrears if you've fallen behind from the British Gas Energy Trust.

Anyone can apply, it's not just for British Gas customers, or only those on Universal Credit – but if you're claiming the benefit and are struggling you could be eligible.

It's for those living in England, Scotland or Wales, who have less than £1,000 in savings and are facing fuel poverty.

Some suppliers might be able to help with heating costs or emergencies, such as a boiler breakdown.

Check to see what support your local authority provides and check whether it is a loan or a grant before you accept anything.

If there is a Home Improvement Agency, it may be able to apply to its charitable arm, the Foundations Independent Living Trust, for grants to help make your home warmer.

Some suppliers have charitable trusts or funding schemes to help when things go wrong.

Some only offer grants to their customers, while others such as British Gas have schemes that are open to anyone.

There are around 8,000 charities and organisations in the UK that offer cash to help struggling families.

Turn2Us has a free grants search tool so you can find out what help is available to you.

It's also worth checking you're getting all the benefit's you're entitled to, especially if you've had a change of circumstances.

The quickest way to see what benefits you may be able to claim is to use one of the three benefit calculators recommended by Gov.uk.

Each one is free to use. They are: 

  • Turn2us
  • Policy in Practice
  • entitledto

Household support fund

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

How much you can get depends on where you live and in many areas getting Universal Credit means you qualify for the help.

For instance Runnymede council in Surrey is giving out £150 through the household support fund and you don't have to pay the cash back.

To see what's available where you are, and to apply, you'll need to check your local council.

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

This scheme is closing soon and some councils may already have given out the cash it has and closed for applications.

But local councils also offer welfare assistance schemes all year round that can help you with bills, so check what's available.

Budgeting loans

You may be able to get a budgeting loan from the Social Fund to help with intermittent expenses.

You're more likely to be eligible if you receive pension credit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance or income-related employment and support allowance.

Universal Credit claimants will need to apply for a budgeting advance – these are interest free loans, but must be paid back.

You will need to have been receiving benefits for more than six months before applying.

The payments are designed to help with intermittent expenses which are difficult to budget for, such as the cost of installing a prepayment meter or connection charges if you move home.

It's best to check cash you can get that you don't have to pay back before applying for a loan or advance.

New energy bill discount scheme – £200

The government has announced the every single household will get a £200 discount on their energy bill this year.

This is part of a package of support designed to help Brits struggling as costs rise and will be applied automatically, but not until October.

The money does have to be paid back, but it will be in the form of £40 added to annual bills over five years from next year.

Martin Lewis has explained how the scheme will work and that it's more like a levy than a loan – here's what he said.

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