Help is at hand for fuel bills

Paul Lewis outlines the schemes protecting people from major price hikes

business accounting with saving money with hand holding lightbulb concept financial background

The Chancellor has promised to help with the big rises in electricity and gas bills from April.

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There will be a £150 rebate off your council tax in April if you live in a band A, B, C, or D home. The band will be on your bill. Disabled people in band E homes who pay band D council tax through the disability reduction scheme will get the £150, at least in England. You will get the payment even if your council tax is reduced or zero, as it is for many low-income pensioners. It will be paid directly into bank accounts. If the council does not have your bank details, it will ask for them.

The discount scheme applies in England, Scotland and Wales. But in Scotland and Wales the £150 will also be given to council-tax payers in homes in band E or above who get council-tax reduction because their income is low. In Northern Ireland, where there is no council tax, a similar scheme is expected to be announced for ratepayers.

In England, if you are in a band E, F, G, or H home but are struggling financially, there will be a discretionary fund to help. If you are exempt – this is mainly houses full of students – you can also apply to the discretionary fund. Ask your council. Scotland and Wales have discretionary help schemes, too.

Additionally, in October there will be a £200 discount deducted from all electricity bills in England, Scotland and Wales – but from April 2023 the Government will start taking this money back: around £40 a year for five years will be added to every electricity bill. Northern Ireland will get money to operate a similar scheme.

Next winter the Warm Home Discount in England, Scotland and Wales will be increased by £10 to £150. Pensioners who get the “Guarantee Credit” part of Pension Credit will get it automatically.  Other pensioners in fuel poverty and on means-tested benefits who currently need to apply should also get it automatically.

More details will be published over the coming weeks.

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Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4.