We are facing the largest increase in consumer energy since the dawn of time. Everyone will be affected by this, if not directly, then indirectly as costs to pay bills, will increase the costs fo goods and services.
If you are one of those people who are worried or perhaps want to just work out what help is available to them, then keep on reading!
NO1 – Speak to your supplier
This is fairly standard advice for anyone I talk to when it comes to debt issues. The first thing I ask is ‘Have you told your supplier that you’re struggling?’. Most services (not all) but most, are obliged to give you financial support and may offer multiple ways to try and recover the debt, without putting you onto the streets.
All cases, in this scenario, will be on a case-by-case basis and you must be prepared to go through your bank statement with them. You have nothing to hide if you are genuinely skint and can’t afford your bills. This is to ensure that 1) you’re not lying and 2) what they offer for you to pay, is fair for you.
No 2 – Hardship Funds
If there is no way that the amount owed can be paid, then you may be entitled to access the hardship funds. Hardship funds are usually charitable organisations that run alongside the energy firm.
British Gas, for example, have a grant which is accessible for anyone, including people who aren’t actually with British Gas. They won’t be giving this away for everyone though, so the application can be quite stringent, but, if you get it, could definitely help you fund your bills.
Utility Warehouse, Shell Energy, Scottish Power, British Gas, E-on Next, EDF Energy and Octopus Energy, all have hardship funds, but getting access to them can depend upon whether you are a customer or not. All applications, again are on a case by case basis.
No. 3 – Reduce your expenditure
This one is a tricky one…but desperate times = desperate measures. NOW is the time to review what you’re spending! Do you need your TV Package? Do you NEED to get stuff online, the next day? Do you NEED the expensive clothing? Do you NEED to Smoke and drink? I am not suggesting by any means that you should give all of these up, but perhaps you could follow my saving tips and become one of my savings NURDS.
N – New – get something new which pays better interest, perhaps it’s more efficient, cheaper to run….
U – Use less – Simply, use and keep doing what you’re doing…just door use less of it. Remember the energy price cap, is a cap on the cost per unit used – not on how much you can use.
R – Rid – Do you need it? Do you want it? Could you live without it, even for the short term? Then get rid. This method means the money is in your pocket, immediately. Sometimes you have to pay an exit fee – but, if you have to pay £100 to get out of the contract – BUT, it saves £1000, it’s a viable idea. You have to be honest with yourself here, a lot of people will kid themselves that they need it because ‘you never know’ or because ‘the kids need it’.
D– Downgrade – I don’t like this word, it’s a dirty word that marketers use to make you feel like you’re getting a worse deal than what you actually are. YOU ARE NOT DOWNGRADING, you are making the ‘thing’ more suitable for your needs!
So, if you don’t need the all inclusive gym membership, because realitically, you’re not going swimming, then get the cheaper membership deal. If you are using only 300 texts and 300mins of call time, get a SIM card which is restricts your use, often, the SIM is cheaper….aaaand repeat to other aspects of your expenditure. You could also ‘downgrade’ things like the brand you purchase. For example, moving from the brand name to the supermarkets finest, then from the supermarkets finest to the supermarkets cheapest, then from a more expensive supermarket to a cheaper one!
S – Switch – same product or service, different provider. Sometimes you get better customer service, sometimes you get worse or methods in how to get in contact with the company is harder, weigh up your options and do your research. Sometimes, you get the same service, same product, just with someone else, for example, banking. Don’t be afraid to switch! Companies don’t care about your loyalty, charity starts at home, so think about yourself and your family first.
Cost of living support
In May 2022 the government proposed a £400 credit on all households who havea domestic metre in their property. For most people, this £400 will be added to each persons account automatically. This isn’t to be confused with the New Energy Price Guarantee. The cost of living support grant is non-repayable and will be paid between October 2022 and March 2023.
Energy Price Cap
The energy price cap is a new scheme, introduced by UK Prime minister Liz Truss in September 2022. This ensures that there will be a price cap for the average household of £2500 for the next 2 winters. I will write up a new post about this, as soon as more information is available.
£650 grant for people on benefits
If you were in receipt of a benefit payment for any of the following between 26 April and 25 May 2022:
- Universal Credit
- Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
- Income-related employment and support allowance
- Income support
- Working tax credit
- Pension credit
- Child Tax Credit
Then you may well be able to get the £650 grant. This is paid in 2 payments, the first on the 14th July and the 2nd at some point during the last quarter of the year.
Warm Home Discount
The warm home discount is available to some of those on pension credit or on certain benefits. If you have qualified, you will get it paid automatically, this means, you won’t have to apply for it.
National Energy Action (NEA)
The NEA is a charity that offers a free support service known as WASH (Warm and Safe Homes). You can chat towith them via their website or you can complete this online form.
You can refer people here too, so if someone isn’t very brave, feel free to refer them (with their consent).
This is a very worrying time for everyone. I used to joke about putting extra jumpers on if you’re chilly, but now, i’m serious! Take control of your finances, review your income and outgoings and be accountable. Use my NURDS acronym to help you start saving today and if you are in debt or you are worried you are going that way, TALK TO SOMEONE.
If you need any help, feel free to email me – firstname.lastname@example.org – Andover Radio and LoveAndover are here to help and support you. If you have any questions, please feel free to get your questions in!