Struggling to pay bills? Karen Holmes, Senior Welfare Specialist at charity Turn2us explains where to get help
1. Do a benefits calculation
You could be missing out on the financial help that you are entitled to through welfare benefits. Claiming entitlements not only maximises your income to help you pay your bills, but can also make you eligible for other sources of help.
For example, if you receive certain benefits you may be eligible for help from your energy supplier towards the cost of insulation and boiler repairs or replacements, as well as the Warm Home Discount - a one-off discount on your energy bill. It may also trigger eligibility for the Cold Weather Payment, money given to those on low incomes and on certain benefits during periods of very cold weather.
- Tip: Try our free Benefits Calculator to check you are claiming the support you are entitled to.
2. See if there are charitable grants available
We recently found that a huge 86% of families on low incomes had not checked what free charitable grants could be available to help them with their energy costs. There are over 3,000 grant-giving charities in the UK that distribute grants and other services to individuals in need. Each is set up to assist specific groups of people on low incomes. Eligibility can be based on occupation, the area you live, or having a specific health condition or disability. Charities may be able to give grants to pay for energy bills or arrears, or essential household items or repairs.
- Tip: You can check your eligibility for grants and other support according to your particular needs and circumstances by using our free Grants Search tool.
3. Seek debt advice
Many of the people we help have struggled to keep up with their energy bills, building up arrears or turning to short-term loans to cover the shortfall, which can exacerbate the problem further.
- Tip: If you need debt support and advice, use the free My Money Steps tool to put together a personal action plan to help manage your money.
4. Look at energy-efficiency schemes
Improving the energy efficiency of your home can make it warmer and reduce your energy bills. If you live in a privately owned or rented home, there are a number of schemes that may be able to help with energy efficiency improvements – from the Government, energy suppliers, local councils and other sources. The help that could be available depends on which part of the UK you live and some schemes are only available to people on low incomes or certain benefits.
- Tip: Further information about these schemes is available on the Turn2us website.
5. Check that you're on the best tariff
You could save money on your bills by switching your energy supplier. Use Yours Energy Switching to check you are on the best tariff and switch supplier if you find a better deal.
- Tip: It’s worth noting that your energy supplier can refuse to allow you to switch to another supplier if you have an outstanding debt. Whether or not you will be allowed to switch will depend on how long you have owed the money and what kind of meter you have.