Winter fuel support scheme
The Welsh Government’s Winter fuel support scheme allows eligible households to claim a one-off £200 payment from their local authority.
The scheme is open to households where one member is in receipt of certain welfare benefit. You must have been claiming these benefits at any time between 1 December 2021 and 31 January 2022. Applications will be processed by local authorities who will be writing to eligible households.
Further information is available on the Welsh Government’s website.
Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF)
DAF Emergency Assistance Payments are grants that can help pay for essential costs (including gas and electricity) if you:
- are experiencing extreme financial hardship;
- have lost your job; or
- have applied for benefits and are waiting for your first payment
Further information on the DAF is available on the Welsh Government’s website.
Winter Fuel Payments
People born on or before 26 September 1955 may be able to receive a Winter Fuel Payment of between £100 and £300. This payment is not means tested and is usually made automatically to eligible people if they get a state pension or another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit).
Further information is available from www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment or by calling 0800 731 0160.
Warm Home Discount
This is a one-off annual fuel discount of £140 off an electricity bill – the money isn’t paid directly to the consumer.
If energy is paid for through a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter households can arrange an alternative method of payment with their energy supplier, such as a voucher to top-up the meter.
There are two ways to qualify for the scheme:
- Being in receipt of the Guaranteed Credit element of the Pension Credit. Eligible consumers should receive a letter between October and December telling them how to apply. Contact the Warm Home Discount Team for further information on 0800 731 0214; or
- Being on a low income and meeting the individual energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme. Contact the energy supplier for further information and to apply. A list of all energy suppliers that are part of the scheme is available on the Gov.uk website.
More information is available from www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme.
Warm Home Discount – Park Homes
Park home residents who are billed for their electricity through their park site owner can apply for a £140 rebate towards their fuel bill. Eligibility criteria apply, Further information is available from the Park Homes – Warm Home Discount website.
Cold Weather Payments
A cold weather payment of £25 should be paid automatically to eligible claimants for every 7 consecutive days of very cold weather (an average of zero degrees celsius or less) in their area over the winter period (1 November to 31 March).
Constituents in receipt of the following benefits may receive a Cold Weather Payment:
- Pension Credit;
- Income Support;
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance;
- Income-related ESA;
- Universal Credit; or
- Support for Mortgage Interest.
Constituents receiving Pension Credit will usually get Cold Weather Payments, but for other benefits there are additional eligibility criteria that must be met.
More information is available from www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment.
The Winter Fuel Payment, the Warm Home Discount and the Cold Weather Payment can be claimed alongside each other.
1. Energy debt
If a constituent cannot pay their energy bill and falls into debt their energy supplier should give them an opportunity pay the debt through a payment plan.
Ofgem has a Consumer Vulnerability Strategy that sets out its priorities to help protect gas and electricity consumers in vulnerable situations until 2025. It has also set out its approach to consumer vulnerability protections.
Sources of independent advice on energy debt are listed at the end of this factsheet.
Ofgem has recognised that consumers who run out of credit on a pre-payment meter, what it terms “self-disconnecting”, need better support. In December 2020 it set out new rules to reduce the number of prepayment customers who go without energy after running out of credit.
Constituents facing difficulties related to pre-payment meters may wish to seek independent advice from one of the organisations listed at the end of this factsheet.
Third party deductions/Fuel Direct
Constituents may be able to have some of their energy/fuel bills paid directly out of their benefit payments if they are having financial difficulties. To be eligible for this service the constituent must be receiving one of the following benefits:
- Universal Credit;
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance;
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance;
- Income Support;
- Pension Credit.
Further information is available from www.gov.uk/bills-benefits.
Energy Supplier Grants
Some energy suppliers offer grants to householders experiencing financial hardship to help pay off energy debts. Most grants are only available to the company’s own customers.
Details of grants are available on the Citizens Advice website.
2. Improving energy efficiency
Energy Performance Certificates
Most buildings need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) when they are built, sold or rented, but there are some exceptions. The EPC will detail the energy performance of the property and what steps can be taken to improve it. This will let a prospective owner or tenant know how expensive it will be to heat their new home. An EPC will contain:
- Information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs; and
- Recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money.
An EPC gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years.
Further information about EPCs, including details of buildings that do not need one, is available on the UK Government’s website.
3. Help from local authorities
Many local authorities have schemes to help improve energy efficiency. These may be targeted at specific types of households (such as those living in fuel poverty) or geographic areas (like housing renewal areas). As well as grants, loans (such as Welsh Government funded Home Improvement Loans) may also be available to homeowners and landlords. The aim of Home Improvement Loans is to ensure that people have a high quality, warm, secure and energy efficient home.
Further advice can be obtained from the relevant local authority. Local authority contact details for the Home Improvement Loan scheme are available on the Welsh Government’s website.
Local authorities can also set their own eligibility criteria for help through ECO3, and then refer households to obligated energy suppliers. This is known as flexible eligibility. Constituents should contact their local authority to confirm if their local authority is participating and to enquire about eligibility.
4. Sources of advice and information
Advice for older people
Age Cymru: Age Cymru offers a free, impartial and confidential advice service by calling 08000 223 444 or emailing [email protected];
Care and Repair: Care and Repair helps older people live in safety and comfort in their own homes. Details of local agencies are available from www.careandrepair.org.uk/en/your-area/ or by calling 0300 111 3333;
Older Peoples Commissioner for Wales: The Commissioner’s Protection & Scrutiny Casework Team may be able to assist or signpost to a partner organisation. Telephone: 03442 640 670 or email: [email protected].
Money and debt advice
The MoneyHelper service is supported by the UK Government and can provide free and impartial money advice on 0800 138 0555 (Welsh) or 0800 138 7777 (English). It also has information on its website www.moneyhelper.org.uk;
MoneySavingExpert.com is a consumer focused website that provides information on a range of issues, including utility bills and how to switch energy tariffs;
The National Debt line can provide advice on managing fuel debt with other personal debts and with energy suppliers. More information is available through its website www.nationaldebtline.org or by calling 0808 808 4000;
Stepchange Debt Charity can provide free debt advice, along with assisting in creating a sustainable budget and giving advice on the best debt solution in the particular circumstances. Further information can be found on their website www.stepchange.org or by calling 0800 138 1111.
Charis Grants: Charis manage schemes on behalf of companies, authorities and charities – including energy companies. Visit www.charisgrants.com/individuals/ , email [email protected] or call 01733 421 021 for further information.
Nest: Information about assistance is available to everyone in Wales by visiting www.nestwales.org.uk or calling 0808 808 2244. Some households may be eligible for grants;
Warm Wales: Warm Wales may be able to help people with a low income and high heating bills. This could fund a new gas supply, boiler or help to improve home insulation. Further information is available by visiting www.warmwales.org.uk or by calling 01656 747623.
General advice and information
Citizens Advice: visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk/wales or for advice on a wide range of issues including debt and benefits or call 0344 477 2020;
Turn2us: Turn2us helps people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help – online, by phone and face to face through partner organisations. Visit www.turn2us.org.uk for further information.