Help with fuel and water bills
The Warm Home Discount scheme
This scheme may lead to a rebate worth up to £140. The scheme
applies in England, Scotland and Wales only and is offered on a
first-come-first-served basis. The discount is not paid to you -
instead the £140 is deducted from your electricity bill.
You will qualify if your energy provider is part of the scheme and:
- you're a pensioner who receives the guarantee credit of pension credit
- you fall into the 'broader group' of people that your energy supplier gives the discount to.
For you to be eligible to claim, you or your partner's name must be on your energy bills and your supplier must take part in the scheme. The Gov.UK website lists all the firms that currently participate.
Do I fall into the broader group?
As a result of our Counting the Costs campaign, the government agreed to standardise eligibility criteria for a discount across all suppliers.
From winter 2015, the government has introduced new rules making clear who should qualify for a warm home discount under the 'broader group' of vulnerable customers. This includes:
- Parents who get either income support, income based job seekers allowance or income related employment and support allowance and who receive a disabled child premium in their award.
- Parents who either get income support, income based job seekers allowance or income related employment and support allowance and who receive a disabled child premium in their child tax credit award.
- Parents who don't get one of the means-tested benefits mentioned above, but whose child tax credit award includes a disabled child element and whose tax credit award is based on an income for tax credits of £16,190 or less.
- Out of work parents on Universal Credit whose award includes a disabled child element and who are on an annual income of £16,190 or less.
The number of discounts each company gives to customers in the 'broader group' is usually limited, so discounts tend to be awarded on a first-come-first-served basis.
Who else might be eligible?
Other groups such as low income families with a child under five also qualify. Full details of the eligible groups can be found at table three on pages 28-29 of OFGEM's guidance [PDF].
Suppliers also have the discretion to apply more generous rules offering discounts to other groups on a low income. Contact your supplier for more details.
To find out if your supplier is taking part in the scheme, visit the government's Warm Homes Discount Scheme webpage.
Cold weather payments (UK-wide)
You may qualify for cold weather payments if you are on an income-related benefit, such as:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Universal Credit
and you have any of the following:
- a child under five in your family
- a child for whom you get child tax credits or income support with an extra amount for their disability
or you receive:
- an extra amount for your own disability or for being over state pension age and you don't live in a care home.
You will receive an automatic payment if the average temperature recorded or forecast over seven days in a row in your local area is zero degrees Celsius (freezing) or less. You do not have to do anything to receive the payment. You can use the government's Cold Weather Payment tool to find out if your area is due to receive a payment.
Community care grants
Families on low income benefits in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may be eligible for grants to help them live independently in the community.
Families in Scotland can apply to their local authority for a grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund for one-off costs, such as a bed or cooker. Apply directly to your local council.
Families in Wales can apply for a grant from the Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF), which gives payments to support vulnerable people to remain living independently. To apply, call the DAF on 0800 859 5924 or apply for a DAF grant online.
Families in Northern Ireland can apply for a Community Care grant to support you in times of extreme pressure. To find our more and apply, visit the Community Care Northern Ireland webpage. Once completed, return it to your Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office.
Water Sure (England and Wales)
In England and Wales, help with water bills may be available under the Water Sure and Water Sure Wales schemes, which work in exactly the same way.
These schemes cap your water bill so you won't pay more than the average metered bill for the area your water company covers. To qualify you must:
- be on certain benefits
- have a water meter (or be waiting for one to be installed)
- have a high essential use of water (this means you have three or more children under 19 in full-time education, or a child with a medical condition or disability that requires your household to use a lot of water).
Children who have certain conditions may automatically qualify under these schemes. Contact your water company directly to find out more and to apply. Your supplier may also offer additional help for customers struggling to pay their bills.
Help from water providers
Vulnerable customers who are finding it difficult to pay their water bills might be entitled to help from their water company.
England and Wales
In England and Wales, some providers (including Welsh Water) offer social tariffs to households with low income or receiving certain benefits. Social tariffs are usually capped at a lower amount than normal bills. The Consumer Council for Water has details of water companies that offer social tariffs.
All households in Scotland are provided with water by Scottish Water. Metered charges are invoiced directly by Scottish Water, which offers various payment plans. Households without water meters are billed by the local council.
If you receive council tax reductions or your property has been adapted for a disabled person, you might be entitled to a discount on your water charges. Speak to your local council for further information or visit the Scottish Water website.
Households in Northern Ireland are provided with water by Northern Ireland Water. Vulnerable customers, including those with a disability, can join the Customer Care Register to receive priority support and other free services. Find out more on the Northern Ireland Water website.
More help on reducing water bills
For more tips on reducing your water bill, visit the Consumer Council for Water page.
Other sources of financial help
Social services departments may help with problems related to fuel bills or fuel supply or provide financial assistance to help a child. This could be a cash payment, a loan or payment in kind.
Some charities provide grants for heating costs, expenses or arrears to families with a disabled child. Our helpline can give you a list of grant-giving organisations.
Check that you're not missing out on benefits. See our benefits webpages for more information about main entitlements and sources of practical help. See our checklists of entitlement, Money Matters [PDF], for parents are carers in England, Scotland and Wales.