When will I get help with my energy bills?

Soaring living costs are hitting many people’s pockets hard, with the government last week promising to provide support to households struggling to cope with massive increases in energy bills.

A smart meter on a kitchen work surface showing the households current energy consumption and costs

The energy price cap is expected to jump by about £800 from October, according to the energy regulator Ofgem, which means a household with typical energy usage will face bills of around £2,800.

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The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that every household will receive £400 to help with energy bills this autumn, with around 8m low-income households who are claiming Universal Credit, Pension Credit and legacy benefits due to receive an extra £650 payment. This will be paid automatically into bank accounts in two instalments, one in July and one in the autumn.

Pensioner households will also get a one-off payment of £300 paid either in November or December, and individuals receiving disability benefits another £150, which will paid in September.

These measures are on top of a £150 Council Tax rebate made to properties in Council Tax bands A-D. This was supposed to be paid in April, although many households have reported that they are still waiting to receive their rebates.

The £400 discount will be applied automatically by energy suppliers in October, so you don’t have to apply for it. The Chancellor had originally promised a £200 rebate which would have to be repaid, but the new £400 payment replaces this and does not have to be paid back.

James Heywood, head of welfare and opportunity at the Centre for Policy Studies, said: “It is important to emphasise that these measures are pain relief, not a complete anaesthetic. The Government cannot completely offset the impact of rising prices for every household – many still face an incredibly tough year ahead.”

Don’t miss out

There are fears that many people could miss out on the additional £650 payment for those on low incomes because they aren’t claiming the benefits they are entitled to. For example, it’s estimated that around a million pensioners who could claim Pension Credit currently don’t, even though it could provide them with access to a range of valuable financial support, including access to the additional £650 payment to help with energy bills.

Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter: “There are numerous reasons why pensioners don’t claim their credits including a lack of awareness, feeling like they would not qualify and simply feeling that they do not want to take up the benefit because of a negative attitude to asking for help or feeling like a burden to the state.”

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If you’re not sure whether you’re entitled to claim benefits, several charities such as Turn2us  and Entitledto have free benefits calculators which can help you work out what you’re eligible for. To make a claim for Pension Credit, call the Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234 or visit www.gov.uk/pension-credit/how-to-claim.