Energy bills could hit £3,850 a year by Christmas – three times what households were paying at the start of 2022 – according to the latest expert estimates. Now the government has revealed further details of its already announced energy bill support scheme, under which millions of households will get a £400 rebate on their energy bills this winter.
Who is eligible?
The energy bill assistance scheme applies to consumers in England, Scotland and Wales. All households in Britain with a household electricity connection are eligible for the aid.
The 1% of homes without a connection – including those who do not have a direct relationship with an energy supplier, such as park residents – will receive equivalent financial assistance, the details of which will be announced in the fall.
The government said it was “working urgently” to ensure households in Northern Ireland received the equivalent of the aid “as soon as possible”.
When will he be paid?
The £400 rebate will be paid in six monthly installments from October this year. In October and November, households will benefit from a reduction of £66 on their energy bills. This will increase to £67 per month from December to March 2023.
It will be paid on a monthly basis, regardless of when consumers usually pay their bills.
How am I going to get the money?
How households will benefit from the rebates depends on the type of electricity meter they have and how they pay their energy bills.
Customers by direct debit will automatically obtain a deduction on the amount collected or a refund to their bank account once the invoice has been paid.
Standard credit customers, charge card customers, and prepaid smart meter customers will have the rebate automatically applied as credit on the first week of each month.
Households with a traditional “non-smart” prepayment meter will receive vouchers the first week of each month, issued by SMS, email or post. Customers will be able to exchange them at their usual charging point.
Students and other tenants who rent properties where their energy bills are included in their rent should also receive payment. “In these circumstances, landlords reselling energy to their tenants must pass on discounted payments appropriately, in line with Ofgem’s rules to protect tenants,” the guidance says.
What are the disadvantages ?
The government has warned consumers to be alert to potential scammers claiming to be involved in the process of paying energy bills and stresses that you will not be asked for your bank details during the process.
Charities and campaigners have raised concerns that the more than 2 million ‘unsmart’ prepayment meter customers, who include some of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable households, could have difficulties in accessing support.
Maureen Fildes, from the National Energy Action charity against energy poverty, said she was concerned that some people using prepaid meters would struggle to get the right ones.
“A lot of people using prepayment meters don’t have much interaction with the energy supplier; they just top up as they need it,” she told the BBC. “If it’s good paper, we’d like to make sure people don’t ignore their supplier’s mail. It will not be another bill; there is going to be some level of support.
What other support is available?
There is other government support available to help families struggling with the rising cost of living, including a one-off payment of £650 for around 8million households on means-tested benefits.
Pensioners claiming the winter fuel payment will also receive a one-off payment of £300 at the same time, and there is a cost of living payment of £150 for around 6 million people claiming certain disability benefits .
Households struggling with their energy bills should contact their supplier as there may be other assistance available, such as a hardship fund or payment plans to help pay off debt.
Rules set by energy regulator Ofgem mean suppliers must offer payment plans people can afford and customers can apply for ’emergency credit’ if they use a prepayment meter and cannot recharge.
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