Government Schemes to help reduce fuel poverty 

Savings on fuel bills

Incredibly, the UK has the second highest rate of fuel poverty in Europe, ranking just behind Slovenia. This is partly due to high fuel costs and also as a result of the UK having an old, inefficient housing stock which was built with no regard to energy saving measures such as insulation.

There are approximately 2.4 million households in England living in fuel poverty, which is 10.3% of total households. Unfortunately in Wales and Scotland the number of households in fuel poverty is even higher. 

Research by National Energy Action has found that more than 3,000 people were needlessly dying each year in the UK because they could not afford to properly heat their homes, and called for urgent action to end to the devastating but entirely preventable tragedy.

WHAT IS FUEL POVERTY?

A household is classed as ‘fuel poor’ if it has above-average energy costs, and if paying those costs would push it below the poverty line as far as its remaining income was concerned. As a general rule-of-thumb, many people class fuel poverty as having to spend more than 10% of your income on fuel for your home.

Fuel poverty affects the unemployed, people on low incomes, and people living in energy-inefficient properties. The Fuel Poverty Energy Efficiency Rating system measures the energy efficiency of a property, ranking dwellings from A to G, with A being the most efficient and G being the lowest.

WHAT HELP IS AVAILABLE FOR FUEL POOR HOUSEHOLDS?

If you’re struggling to keep up with your energy costs, you should remember that your energy provider won’t immediately cut off your supply. There are likely to be warning steps involved – for example, if you miss a bill payment, you’ll be sent a postal reminder after 14 days. This is generally followed by further correspondence and potentially even a home visit if the issue hasn’t been resolved. 

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Figure 1: Unfortunately many people living in fuel poverty have to rely on expensive forms of heating such as electric fires to keep warm. 

ENERGY COMPANY OBLIGATION FUNDING SCHEME

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme places a requirement on the largest energy companies to fund the cost of energy saving measures such as loft insulation, wall insulation and replacement boilers to help lower carbon dioxide emissions and also to help reduce fuel poverty. 

The ECO scheme costs energy companies millions of pounds every year and they pay for this scheme by adding a ‘Green levy’ or a ‘tax’ on to everybody’s bill. This is sometimes called the ‘Environmental and Social Obligation’ on your annual bill and adds approximately £200 every year to the average fuel bill. 

More information on the Climate change levy can be found on the Governments OFGEM website: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/infographic-bills-prices-and-profits 

More information on the various grants available via the ECO scheme can be found by browsing the other pages on this website.

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Figure 3: A pie chart showing a breakdown of a typical domestic energy bill. The Green levy accounts for 10% to 20% of an average electricity bill.

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WINTER FUEL PAYMENTS

You could receive between £100 and £300 to help you with your energy bills through the winter fuel payments scheme if you were born on or before 5 November 1954. If you are eligible and you receive a social security benefit, such as a state pension, then you’ll usually get this as an automatic payment. 

COLD WEATHER PAYMENTS

Cold weather payments are part of another government scheme that gives eligible people £25 for every period of seven days where the temperature reaches zero degrees Celsius or below. You might qualify for these payments if you receive:

  • Income support

  • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance

  • Income-related employment and support allowance

  • Universal credit

  • Pension credit

  • Warm home discount scheme

 

The warm home discount scheme offers to help you with your energy bill, giving you up to £140 as a one-time discount. The money isn’t paid to you directly – it is deducted from your electricity bill sometime between October and March instead.

You’ll either be eligible through the guaranteed credit element of Pension Credit, or you’ll qualify if you’re on a low income and you meet the standards set out by your supplier – if they’re involved in the scheme. 

GRANT FUNDING

 

We are able to help homeowners, tenants and landlords obtain funding for energy saving measures such as loft insulation, wall insulation, boilers and renewable energy.

 

The amount of funding that may be available varies depending on a number of factors including how old the property is, the size of the property, the type of fuel the property has and the Council area in which it is located.

 

Please complete the Grant Checker on our Home Page and our office will contact you to discuss your eligibility for a grant.