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Struggling with your energy costs? Help is available

by Jonathan Kearney

As winter approaches, help is available to Knowsley residents who are struggling with their energy costs.  This includes help paying for gas and electricity and local and national schemes that will help make your home warmer, more energy efficient and cheaper to run.

Energy companies have an obligation to support low income and/or vulnerable households to help manage their energy bills.

Many people have had their income reduced by Coronavirus and if this has impacted on your ability to pay for gas and electricity you should contact your supplier.  The energy companies will support their customers and can put measures in place to help you.

You can also contact your energy supplier to discuss cheaper tariffs or contact the Council’s Energy Efficiency Officer on 0151 443 5817 to see what support is available.

A number of schemes can help cut your energy costs:

Winter Fuel Payments

If you are 65 or older you could receive between £100 and £300 tax-free to help pay your heating bills with a Winter Fuel Payment. If you don’t receive this automatically you can apply online or by calling 0800 731 0160.

Cold Weather Payments

Cold weather payments can help people who receive certain benefits with their additional heating costs during winter. A payment will be made for each seven day period of very cold weather between 1 November 2020 and 31 March 2021. You’ll receive a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over 7 consecutive days. More information can be found online.

Warm Home Discount

Eligible residents could benefit from a £140 discount on their electricity bill this winter. The one-off discount will be directly applied to people’s energy bills as part of the Warm Home Discount Scheme. You could be eligible for the discount if you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or you’re on a low income and meet your energy providers criteria for the scheme. The Warm Home Discount does not affect your eligibility for Winter Fuel Payments or Cold Weather Payments.

Green Homes Grant

Funding is available up to £10,000 to make your home more energy efficient as part of the Green Homes Grant. The grant will help fund energy saving measures such as cavity wall insultation or replacing single glazing. More support, information and advice on energy saving measures can be found on the Knowsley Council website.

Prepayment meter customers

Tully list support for prepayment customers from the main energy suppliers, with further links to their specialist coronavirus response pages. Many outlets remain open for topping up prepayment cards, including post offices and newsagents. https://www.tully.co.uk/pre-pay-support

Getting help in an emergency

If you are unable to top up a prepayment meter (for example if you are self-isolating or can’t afford to do so) contact your supplier.  If you are in an unavoidable emergency situation and are in receipt of certain benefits and have a prepayment meter, you could be eligible for help with fuel costs through the Council’s emergency support scheme.  More information is available on the Knowsley Council website.

Other support

United Utilities

United Utilities offer a range of support to help customers with their water bills. Support includes:

  • Payment Break – the option to defer payments if a household emergency or a loss of income has made paying bills difficult
  • Help to Pay – if you receive Pension Credit you can apply to have your bills capped based on your income and outgoings
  • Back on Track – if you receive benefits or tax credits and are either in arrears or your income has reduced due to Covid, you can apply to have your bills reduced

Debt help

If you are struggling with other bills, you can get free, independent debt advice from the organisations below.  They can help you to find out what your options are, support you to manage the debt or you can take their advice and manage things yourself.

Stepchange

Stepchange provide help to create a budget using debts, income and spending, develop a personal action plan and to consider whether a debt solution could help (such as bankruptcy or a debt relief order).

Support is available for as long as you need it.

Call 0800 138 1111, Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 8am to 4pm, or use webchat via their website www.stepchange.org.  An online advice tool is available on their website

National Debtline

National Debtline can help you create a budget and explains what options are open to you to manage your debt.

Call 0808 808 4000 Monday to Friday between 9am and 8pm, email or use webchat through the website https://www.nationaldebtline.org/