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

18 March 2022

4 min read

If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, you might have noticed that your household energy bills have increased recently, or heard they’re going to be increasing over the next few months.

We understand this may be an unsettling time. 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

How we can help you

Other useful resources and tips

Why energy prices are rising

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

These prices have risen dramatically since October 2021, due to knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic and other economic factors.

This has led to the energy price cap — the maximum amount energy firms can charge their customers — being increased in England, Wales and Scotland. It means that anyone living in these countries will now pay more for their household energy.

Government schemes

The Government has a range of schemes to help vulnerable people and those on a low income pay for their bills. It might be worth checking if you’re eligible for any of the following grants.

Winter Fuel Payment

If you were born on or before 26 September 1955, you could get between £100 and £300 to help with your heating bills. This is known as a Winter Fuel Payment.

The deadline for you to make a claim is at the end of March.

Learn more about the Winter Fuel Payment scheme

Cold Weather Payment

You may be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment if you’re getting certain benefits or have a Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loan from the Government.

You’ll get a £25 payment if your local area experiences freezing temperatures continuously over a seven-day period.

The scheme runs from November to March each year.

Learn more about the Cold Weather Payment scheme

Warm Home Discount

You could also get £140 off your electricity bill under the Warm Home Discount Scheme. You might be eligible if you get Pension Credit, or if you live in a low-income household. A number of energy firms take part in the scheme, but not all of them.

The money is not paid directly to you — it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between October and March. If your energy firm’s 2021/2022 deadline has passed, you may be eligible for their 2022/2023 discount.

Learn more about the Warm House Discount scheme

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 free and impartial advice for people experiencing money and debt-related problems.

You can talk to one of their advisers using their chat service, by phone, or through their Relay UK service if you can't hear or speak on the phone.

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.

Visit the Citizens Advice website

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

How we can help you

Our customers are at the heart of everything we do; that’s why we’re always here to listen and support you, no matter what money worries you may have.

Speak to our Co-operative Bank support team

If you call us, we can help you work out a budget, and offer support based on your individual circumstances.

Before you call us you’ll need:

  • Details of your monthly income, like a payslip
  • Details of your monthly outgoings, including all bills and expenses.

Call us on 03457 212 212. Lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm, and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Call charges.

Find out what to expect when you call our support team

Get tips on how to create a budget that works for you

We’ve put together some simple tips on how to budget, including zero-based budgeting which can help you track your outgoings.

Check out our budgeting guide

Other useful resources and tips

Here are some online resources that you might find useful, as well as some tips to help if you’re experiencing financial hardship.

Resources

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

Top tips

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.

Consider switching to direct debits when paying your council tax

If you live in England and your home’s council tax band is A, B, C or D, you will be eligible for a £150 ‘energy’ rebate in April 2022.

You’ll automatically receive this payment if you pay your council tax by direct debit. If you don’t, there could be a delay to your payment as your council will have to contact you and invite you to make a claim.

There’s also a similar scheme available for eligible Scottish residents, but the way the £150 is distributed may differ depending on the local authority. The Welsh Government has also announced it’ll be offering a rebate to eligible residents, though the details of this are yet to be confirmed.

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