Worried about rising energy bills? Find out what support is available

30 March 2023

6 min read

If you live in the UK, it’s likely that you’ve felt the impact of the rising cost of living over the last couple of years. One of the main things that’s contributed to this is the increasing cost of energy.

We understand this may be an unsettling time for you. If you’re worried about keeping up with the cost of your energy bills, we’ve put together some guidance on support services and helpful schemes that are available.

Why energy prices are rising

Government schemes

Independent services

Other useful resources and tips

Why energy prices are rising

One key factor is the increase in wholesale gas prices — the amount that energy suppliers pay gas producers for energy that’ll be sold on to consumers.

These prices have risen dramatically over the last couple of years, due to knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic and other economic factors.

In England, Wales, and Scotland, this has led to the energy price cap — the maximum amount energy suppliers can charge their customers — being increased. It means that anyone living in these countries will now pay more for their household energy. There is no price cap in Northern Ireland, but the increasing cost of energy is still being passed onto consumers.

Government schemes

Energy Price Guarantee

On 1 October 2022, the government put in place a new Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) which limits the amount UK households can be charged per unit of gas or electricity. For a typical household in England, Scotland, or Wales, this is equivalent to around £2,500 a year.

Please note: the EPG doesn’t mean that £2,500 is the maximum amount you will pay for gas and electricity in a year. For example, you may still pay more if you live in a property with multiple occupants, or one that’s poorly insulated.

The EPG was originally set to rise on 1 April 2023, but will remain at the current level until at least 30 June 2023.

Also, you don’t need to apply for it — the discount is automatically set by your energy supplier. So if you receive a message telling you that you need to apply, or asking for your bank or card details, it’s a scam.

Learn more about the Energy Price Guarantee

Energy Bills Support Scheme

In summer 2022, the government announced that it would be giving every household with a domestic electricity connection in England, Scotland, and Wales £400 off their energy bills.

This was applied in monthly instalments over six months, with a reduction of £66 a month in October and November 2022, and £67 a month from December 2022 to March 2023.

If you have a traditional prepayment meter

If you have a traditional prepayment meter, you should have received:

  • Redeemable vouchers, sent by text, email, or post
  • Or, an automatic credit when you topped up at your usual top-up point.

Please note: redeemable vouchers expire after 90 days. If your voucher does expire, you can ask for it to be reissued. All vouchers must be redeemed by 30 June 2023.

Learn more about the Energy Bills Support Scheme

Winter Fuel Payment

If you were born on or before 26 September 1956, you could get between £250 and £600 to help with your heating bills. This is known as a Winter Fuel Payment.

The amount you’ll receive includes your ‘pensioner cost of living payment’, which is between £150 and £300. You’ll get this extra amount in winter 2023 to 2024. This is in addition to any Cost of Living Payment you may be entitled to.

Most people get the Winter Fuel Payment automatically, but depending on your situation, you may have to apply for it.

Learn more about the Winter Fuel Payment scheme

Support for households in Northern Ireland

If you live in Northern Ireland, you should have received a £600 payment to help with your energy bills at some point between 16 January and 28 February 2023.

This one-off payment will have consisted of:

  • £400 of support from the Energy Bills Support Scheme Northern Ireland
  • £200 of support from the Alternative Fuel Payment (AFP) scheme.

The AFP support applies to all households in Northern Ireland. It does not matter how you heat your home.

You should have automatically received the payment — if you haven’t, you could contact your energy supplier.

Learn more about getting household energy bill support in Northern Ireland

Independent services

There are also a number of independent organisations who can offer you support and advice if you’re worried about energy bills, or experiencing financial hardship.

Support from Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice offers support for people experiencing money and debt-related problems.

We’ve partnered with them so that our customers can get free, fast, and confidential advice when they need it most.

They also have lots of advice on their website, such as what to do if you think your energy bills are too high, or if you’re struggling to pay your prepayment meter.

Find out how you can get direct help from Citizens Advice

Debt fuel advice from the British Gas Energy Trust

The British Gas Energy Trust is an independent charitable organisation set up to support families and individuals struggling to pay their bills.

They can point you in the direction of local advice centres, and offer grants to those most in need. Their Bounce Back Checklist can also tell you what support you might be entitled to.

You don’t need to be a British Gas customer to be eligible for support.

Visit the British Gas Energy Trust website

Advice from StepChange

StepChange is a UK charity which offers free debt advice based on an assessment of your situation, along with practical help and support.

Visit the StepChange website

Guidance from MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is a service that provides free and impartial financial guidance for people across the UK.

They also have easy-to-use money tools on their website, and lots of information on how to save money on your energy bills.

View MoneyHelper’s energy bill savings guide

Other useful resources and advice

Here are some online resources that you might find useful, and advice if you're experiencing financial hardship.

Our Energy Saving Home Improvement Tool with the Energy Saving Trust

We’ve worked with the Energy Saving Trust (EST) to bring you a tool for creating a personalised Energy Saving Improvement Plan. You can use it to help save on your energy costs by updating and renovating your property, making it more energy efficient.

Create your personalised plan

Extra help with the Priority Services Register

You might be eligible for extra support from your energy supplier or network operator if you sign up to the Priority Services Register.

You can sign up if you are disabled, have a long-term illness, or if you’ve reached the state pension age. You may also be eligible for other reasons that aren’t listed.

Your supplier or operator can help with things such as:

  • Letting you know about planned power cuts in advance
  • Sending your bills to someone else (for example, a carer)
  • Moving your pre-payment meter if you can’t access it safely
  • Providing you with accessible information, e.g. your bills in large print or braille.

Learn more about the Priority Services Register on Ofgem’s website

Grants and schemes from energy suppliers

As well as the British Gas Energy Trust which is open to anyone, there are also a number of energy suppliers who offer grants to their own customers to help them pay off their debts.

Find out if your energy company offers grants

If you’re worried about paying your energy bills, you could contact your supplier

Under Ofgem rules, suppliers must work with you to agree a payment plan you can afford.

You could ask for:

  • A review of your current payments and debt repayments
  • Payment breaks
  • Access to hardship funds
  • More time to pay.

Not found what you're looking for?

Contact our support team