I know that my constituents are worrying about the cost of energy and the energy price cap going up in April. With that in mind, I’ve put together an article to help concerned residents. This document should help you if you’re worried, or need assistance.
Need help with energy debt?
If you are worried you’re falling into energy debt, contact your energy supplier as soon as possible. If they know there is a problem, they are required to work with you to find a solution. For example, they can help you to set up an affordable repayment plan and take any payment in a format which is suitable to you.
Alternatively, you can speak to Citizens Advice Trafford.
Looking at your benefits and maximising your income
Make sure you are claiming the correct benefits. This could increase your income as well as make you eligible for other types of assistance.
If you’d like to speak to somebody, then Citizens Advice Trafford can help.
Welfare rights advice – Trafford Council
Trafford Council has a welfare rights team that is trained to help you with a whole range of benefits provided by the Department for Work and Pensions and the local authority.
They can advise you on:
- What benefits and tax credits you are entitled to
- How to claim
- What to do if the amount that they get does not seem right
- Support and/or representation at appeal hearings
Check if you can receive any energy discounts or payments
Contact your energy supplier to see if you are entitled to a Warm Home Discount. This is best done around October each year (however some suppliers open their schemes earlier in the year). This is a discount of £140 on electricity bills for the winter period. Those who receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit should get the discount automatically. Energy suppliers may offer the discount to other low-income and vulnerable households who meet the qualifying criteria, so it pays to check.
If you get a state pension, then you should get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a Winter Fuel Payment. It is paid automatically between November and December if you have claimed before, or if you are in receipt of some other benefits. Others will need to apply for it.
In addition, some households could be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment of £25 per qualifying week. This is paid automatically to those on certain benefits when the average temperature in their area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below for seven consecutive days. You’ll get £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather, between 1 November and 31 March.
Get crisis support from Trafford Council
The Household Support Fund was launched by the UK Government in October 2021 to support households who may struggle to keep warm this winter. The fund runs until April 2022. It helps with the cost of essentials (e.g. energy, clothing, food) and the funds are allocated by your local authority.
What to do if your energy supplier goes out of business
If your energy supplier goes out of business, the gas and electricity regulator, Ofgem will automatically move you to a new supplier. This should happen within a few weeks. If you have one, don’t cancel your Direct Debit and don’t try to switch tariff, or supplier until your account has moved to the new supplier. You might find it harder to get any money you’re owed if you switch before this happens. Wait for your new supplier to contact you.
Before your new supplier contacts you, you should:
- Take meter readings – it’s useful to take a photo of your meter readings too
- Keep any old bills you have. These can help prove your payment history, credit balance or debt
- download any bills from your app if you have an online-only account
- Make a note of your account balance – you’ll find this on your most recent statement
Your new supplier should explain what will happen with your account. They will write to tell you when your new account has been set up. You should contact your new supplier if you don’t hear from them within two weeks.
Your new supplier will put you on a new tariff – it might be more expensive than your old one. Ask them whether it’s their cheapest deal. If they don’t contact you, you should contact them to make sure you’re on the best tariff for you. You can switch if you’re not happy with your new supplier or tariff. You can do this without paying an exit fee.
Calling advice lines and other services may incur call charges.
- 0800 and 0808 numbers are free from landlines and mobiles
- Standard rates apply for 01, 02 and 03 numbers (typically 9p-13p per minute from landlines and 3p-55p from mobiles depending on your network), however they are usually included in free call packages. Click here for more information.