17 February 2017 | News
Fairerpower aim to tackle fuel poverty for residents in Cheshire East and West, whether that is by helping people to switch, sharing tips on low-cost ways to keep the home warm or sharing advice on what to do when you fall on hard times – we’re here to help!
There is a proven link between living in cold/ damp homes and health implications – this is why no one should ever be left without gas or electric.
To support the National Energy Actions Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, we’ve compiled a list of things you can do when you’re struggling and ways you can make your energy bills more manageable. For more details of any of these issues, read the NEA’s Fuel Poverty Action Guide.
Difficulty paying for your energy bill?
If you have difficulty paying your energy bill, don’t suffer in silence! The first thing you should do is contact your energy supplier.
Your energy supplier will work with you to find the best solution for you so you can pay your outstanding bills back, most often by implementing a manageable payment plan.
If you are in extreme debt, energy suppliers will be able to offer you special payment plans, often with an extremely low debt recovery level.
Are you experiencing significant financial difficulty?
Energy suppliers must follow procedures lay down by regulators in order to help people who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. These include:
– Offering a wide range of payment methods
– Following strict procedures for dealing with customers in difficulty in order to prevent disconnection from supply
– All participating electricity suppliers are required by mandate to give a Core Group discount to eligible clients on their electricity bills [the Warm Home Discount]. They are also required to run Broader Group schemes for some other vulnerable consumers on low incomes. Check with the supplier directly for details of the benefits on offer and the eligibility criteria (see the Help and Benefits section for more information).
Explore different payment options
When paying for your energy, consider the range of payment options available to you and what would be best fitted for your circumstances so you aren’t left with a cold home.
Consider the pros and cons of the different payment arrangements out there.
If you area low income household, prepayment meters offer a good budgeting aid for paying your gas and electric.
This method of payment means you can pay for your energy as and when you use it, and you can have better control of budgeting within your means.
However, do consider the costs and availability of payment agents in your area – as sometimes these are limited.
If you do decide to choose the prepayment meter – be sure you understand the standing charges from your energy supplier so you can fully understand the available credit you have left. And if you ever run out of credit on your payment meter, there is only a limited amount of emergency credit available.
Fairerpower currently offer the best prepayment deal on the market – get a quote now.
Direct Debit may be a more suitable avenue for you to explore if you have consistent and stable income. It is extremely convenient and generally offers the lowest fuel costs.
This payment method is good for budgeting as you pay the same amount each month when you are on a fixed plan, and once the arrangement has been established there is no need for further action on your behalf.
Although Direct Debit has obvious benefits, for people who are financially struggling it will become problematic if insufficient funds are in your bank account as the household will most likely incur bank charges and your debt could build up. Also, if payments have not been adjusted to cover changes in consumption a debt may have accrued which needs to
Help and Benefits
Low income is often the biggest cause of fuel poverty – which is why it is important to ensure that you are as financially secure as possible and receiving all the benefits and help you are entitled to.
Be sure you are accessing all of the benefits and help you are entitled to.
You can do so by ringing your local office of the Pension Service, Job Centre Plus, Citizens Advice Bureau, Money Advice Agency or Welfare Rights Office to ensure you are receiving the benefits you are entitled too.
The charity Turn2us also provides details of benefits available and includes a benefits calculator to see what you may be entitled too: https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Find-Benefits-Grants
Already claiming benefits?
If you are already claiming benefits, there are many extra forms of help you may be entitled too:
Local Welfare Assistance Scheme
You may be able to get support in the form of grants, ‘no interest loans’, and provision of white goods’ ‘whitegoods ‘or delivery of services by the council or subcontractors. Generally they don’t offer cash except in exceptional circumstances.
For more information on what is available in your local area contact the relevant authority.
Budgeting loans/ budgeting advance
Budgeting loans, (or advanced budgeting advance if you are on Universal Credit) are interest-free loans intended to help households where dependence on income benefits has made budgeting for intermittent expenses difficult. Although budgeting loans are not available for gas and electricity charges or standing charges, priority is given to meter installation, reconnection charges and the cost of non-mains fuels such as oil, bottled gas, paraffin and coal.
A Universal Credit claimant may be able to get advance payment of their benefit if:
• There is a delay in giving a decision about their claim but the decision-maker is of the view the claimant is likely to be entitled.
• The claimant has an award but there is a delay in paying the benefit (or an increase in the benefit).
The short-term advance can only be made if the claimant is in ‘financial need’, meaning there is risk of damage to the health and safety of the claimant or their family due to the delays of payment, for example health risks of not being able to pay energy bills.
For a full list of contact details for this additional support click here and go to page 21.
Cold weather payments
There is options out there specifically related cold weather to ensure people are kept warm. Such as cold weather payments.
Cold weather payments are made to eligible households in areas of exceptionally cold weather. The amount payable is £25 for any qualifying week.
Winter Fuel Payments
A Winter Fuel Payment is an annual of payment between £100-£300 to help people with the costs to keep warm in winter. This is offered to people over 63 years of age.
For a full list of eligibility of these services click here and go to page 12.
Switching Energy Supplier
If you have been with the same energy supplier for a long time, you may be paying significantly more on your energy bill than you should be and by switching you a most likely able to reduce your fuel bills by a considerable amount.
Although the switching process is relatively easy, if you’ve never done it before it is understandable it may be daunting or confusing.
Do your research!
Suppliers must give accurate advice to enquirers about savings they offer – by calling around different energy suppliers and sharing your households energy consumption they will be obligated to tell you the best deals they have for you.
If you are enquiring to your existing energy supplier, they are obligated to share with you the best deal they have on offer.
Some utility companies also offer specific energy packages tailored to meet the needs of particular sections of the community.
These may, for example, comprise rebates, discounted charges or fixed-rate tariffs.
There is also lots of information you can access online, take a look at these Ofgem-accredited price comparison sites to compare the best deals out there for you:
Citizens Advice also offer a free, impartial online energy comparison service at: https://energycompare.citizensadvice.org.uk
If you live in Cheshire East or West you may be able to get the best deal possible from Fairerpower.co.uk – we have negotiated special tariffs with energy supplier OVO specifically for residents in this area!
Simply by switching to us, you could save over £100.47(1) per year.
Things to remember…
• There are many things you can do at home without spending money to reduce your energy bills and keep warm – read our Top 10 energy saving tips to save money and keep warm in Winter.
• If you are a household with children, energy suppliers have agreed the following minimum standards to ensure you aren’t living in a cold home:
– During the winter period (1st October to 31st March) they will not knowingly disconnect either the electricity or gas supply of a household with a child under the age of 16.
– Outside the winter period, Energy UK members will not knowingly disconnect either the electricity or gas supply of a household with a child aged five years or younger, provided that the customer commits to paying a “consumption only” arrangement, thus showing a commitment to paying for future energy use.
• You aren’t alone! Don’t sit in silence and live in a cold home – reach out to your local authority and research where you can get help, there are always options available to you if you know where to turn.
(1) Average saving is £100.47 based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYM and PAYGO Fairerpower customers quoted through the Fairerpower website, compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/10/2016 and 31/12/16. Incl VAT.Back to Blog