With temperatures set to plummet in the weeks ahead and the festive season on the horizon, many of us will be feeling the financial pinch of keeping warm this winter. As the country continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and thousands affected after the GBP20 Universal Credit uplift was cut last month, it is important to know there is government support available of you are struggling financially. Lat month, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) predicted some 3.8 million households on low incomes are estimated to be in arrears with household bills.
The JRF said the findings show clear signs that the pandemic has dragged families who were previously just about managing into arrears on essential bills. Here is a list of government support available through the winter months ahead.
Warm Home Discount
The Warm Home Discount could see you save up to GBP140 on your energy bills. (PA) The Warm Home discount will not see money physically added to your bank account however could see you save up to GBP140 on your energy bills between October 2021 and March 2022.
Two groups of people will qualify for the discount: a "core group" and the "broader group". The core group is made of people who claim the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit. Those who get the benefit or their partner who is on the bill will be able to get the discount if their energy supplier has signed up to the scheme.
Those who qualify will get a letter in the post after the discount application period opened in October. Those in the broader group are people who are not on the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit but are on a low income, get means tested and use an energy supplier signed up to the scheme. Your energy supplier will make a decision so it's recommended you speak to them as early as possible to see if you qualify for the discount.
Here is a list of energy suppliers signed up to the Warm Home Discount scheme.
- Affect Energy - Octopus energy
- Atlantic - SSE
- Bristol Energy
- British Gas
- British Gas Evolve
- Bulb Energy
- Co-Op Energy
- E.On Next
- EDF Energy
- ESB Energy
- GEUK (Green Energy UK)
- London Power
- M&S Energy
- Nabuh Energy
- Octopus Energy
- Outfox the Market
- Rebel Energy
- Sainsbury's Energy
- Scottish Gas
- Scottish Hydro
- Shell Energy Retail
- So Energy
- Southern Electric
- Together Energy
- Utility Warehouse
Household support fund
As part of the government's GBP500 million Household Support Fund, devolved administrations are receiving money to provide extra financial support as the country continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The support fund is there for families who need financial support for essentials such as food and clothing. The money you can claim will depend on what it is for and how you local authority plans to spend the money locally.
Some authorities are handing out supermarket vouchers rather than cash for example. You can find your local authority here.
Discretionary Housing Payments
Discretionary Housing Payments are grants through the UK government designed to help local authorities support people with rent and housing costs. To be eligible applicants must be receiving the housing element of Universal Credit or House benefit.
The grant is there to help with costs of rent, rental deposits or costs in the process of moving house and you can apply through your local authority.
Cold Weather Payment
The Cold Weather Payment could be worth GBP25 per week. (PA) The Met Office has predicted temperatures will plummet throughout the UK in the weeks ahead with some areas forecast snow. If the average temperature in your local area is forecasted or recorded as zero degrees Celsius for seven consecutive days then you could qualify for a Cold Weather Payment.
The scheme opened on Monday (November 1) and will run through until the end of March 2022. Those eligible for the payment will receive GBP25 for each seven-day period. Those who could get a payment are those who are on benefits including Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income-based Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit and Support for Mortgage Interest.
Winter Fuel Allowance
Anyone born on or before September 26, 1955 you could get payments ranging from GBP100 to GBP300.
Those who get state pension or another social security benefit that isn't Housing Benefit, Housing Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit will get the payment automatically. Those who don't automatically qualify can claim via the government website.
Universal Credit support
A range of financial support is available for people receiving Universal Credit. (PA) A range of financial support is available for people receiving Universal Credit.
Advance Payment For those who are newly claiming Universal Credit, the Department of Work and Pensions can provide backdated or advance payment. The support is there to help you get by until your first payment but it will have to be paid back to the government.
Hardship payment Hardship payment is available for people struggling to pay for everyday essentials. It generally applies to people who have had their benefits stopped or reduced.
It will usually be around 60% of your usual Universal Credit payment and you will need to repay the money through your usual UC payments. Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA) If you are renting, you or your landlord can apply for APA if you are struggling to to keep up with rent payments.
Fund can be paid straight to your landlord as part of the scheme. Claimants can claim up to GBP812 to help with emergency costs like replacing a broken fridge. Any money you claim will need to be paid back with the smallest claim being GBP100.
To qualify for the support, you will need to be a UC claimant or on other benefits and earned less than GBP2,600 in the last six months (GBP3,600 if you are a couple). You will also have to have paid back any money you were previously given as part of a Budgeting Advance Payment. Further details can be found on the government website.
Bereavement Support Fund
If your husband, wife or civil partner has passed away withing the last 21 months you may also be entitles to government support through the Bereavement Support Fund.
To get a full payment you must apply within three months of their death put you could still receive a reduced payment if you apply for support after this period. To claim for the money your partner must have paid National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks in one tax year since April 6, 1975 or have died as a result of an accident at work or by disease caused by work. Your partner must have died below the State Pension age or living in the UK at the time.
The amount you can get will depend on whether you're in higher rate or lower rate band. Further details can be found on the government website.
Homelessness Prevention Grant
The government has announced a further GBP65 million to the Homelessness Prevention Grant bringing the full allocated amount to GBP375 million. The money is being allocated to local authorities to prevent people from being evicted or getting into arrears.
The funding is to help people recovering amid the coronavirus pandemic who are on a lower income.
You may not see the money yourself as the payments ae likely to go directly to your landlord.
More information can be found on the government website.