Warning for low-income households likely to be £200 a year worse off – how to get help if you’re struggling
The poorest households in the UK will have to find an extra £200 to pay off crippling energy bills over the next 12 months.
Consumer Group Which? warned that up to 2.8 million low-income households across the UK will each be £209 worse off this year.
The Government’s Energy Bill Support Scheme gave all households a £400 rebate on their energy bills between October and the end of March.
It’s now ended, meaning every household’s bills will increase by £67 a month.
Energy prices have started to fall after Ovo unveiled the first fixed price tariff below the energy price guarantee last week.
This means the average household energy bill will fall by around £500 in July when the guarantee ends.
Experts at data consultancy Cornwall Insight estimate the average bill will be around £2,100.
But even if energy supplies become cheaper and low-income households use less energy than higher earners, they will be hit hardest.
You will benefit the least from lower bills and losing the government payment will feel a lot more painful.
Anyone who has a prepaid meter that cannot spread the cost over the year will suffer even more during the cold winter months when costs rise.
Cheap energy is urgently needed
Rocio Concha, which ones? Director of Policy and Advocacy said a reduced energy tariff was badly needed.
She said: “The Government does not currently have an effective means of providing financial support to those on the lowest income brackets in time for the coming winter.
“Ministers have announced that living expenses will continue to be paid to those who are eligible.
“However, this will leave low-income households who are struggling to make ends meet but ineligible for benefits out in the rain.”
Which? is not the only group calling for change.
Citizens Advice, money-saving expert Martin Lewis and Energy UK have also recently come out in favor of a social energy tariff, arguing that a means-tested cash payment would be the best form of support.
Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “High energy costs have made too many people choose between heating and eating.
“Uncertainty about future high prices is only adding to the stress and anxiety that households across the country are feeling.
“A social tariff protects millions of people from overspending on their bills.”
Martin Lewis, money-saving expert, has spent years working to reduce energy bills for those who need them most.
“Now it could be a critical building block in fixing our broken energy consumer market,” he said.
In 2022, Citizens Advice helped 50% more people with energy issues than the year before and more than double the number in 2020.
Last year, the charity saw more people who couldn’t afford to top up their prepaid meter than in the previous 10 years combined.
Where to get help
UK energy watchdog Ofgem said if you’re having trouble paying for energy or think you might be in trouble, contact your supplier.
The rules mean suppliers must offer payment plans you can afford, and you can request an “emergency loan” if you’re using a prepaid meter and can’t top up.
The charity Turn2us has a Eligibility reviewer for grants and benefits and support you in the application process.
Citizens Advice or Advice Direct Scotland may also be able to help you work things out with your supplier if you are deemed to be at risk.
When you receive benefits you may be able to deduct £150 from your electricity bill or add £150 to your prepayment meter.
There is no need to apply to the program – payments are automatic.
You should receive the warm home rebate if you or your partner received the guarantee credit element of the retirement loan on August 21, 2022.
And if you have Universal Credit, here are eight ways you can get help with energy bills worth up to £4,225.
Citizens Advice has a full list of help energy bill on offer and will advise you free of charge and confidentially.
https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/money/10466101/energy-bill-warning-low-income-household-help-struggling/ Warning for low-income households likely to be £200 a year worse off – how to get help if you’re struggling