How to manage your energy costs this winter
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Turn2us, a charity supporting people in financial hardship, has launched its No Cold Homes campaign to help anyone struggling with their energy bills. Linda Gyamfi, Welfare Benefits Specialist at the charity explains what support could be available to help you manage these costs this winter:

Winter Fuel Payment

The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual one-off, tax-free payment to help with heating costs, made to households with someone over Pension Credit age. Any money you get won’t affect your other benefits.

You will usually qualify for the payment for winter 2015 to 16 (date changes every year) if you were born on or before January 5, 1953 and you will be living in the UK throughout the week of September 21 to September 27, 2015. You may get a payment if you live in certain European countries and you have a genuine link to the UK.

The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual one-off, tax-free payment

You usually get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you are receiving certain other benefits including the State Retirement Pension (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit).

Most payments are made usually between November and December; anyone who is not receiving other social security benefits and did not get a payment last winter will need to make a claim. To make a claim, call 03459 151515 or click here.

Priority Services Register

If you are of pensionable age, living with a disability, chronic illness or visual or hearing impairment (or someone in your household is), you can ask your energy supplier if you are eligible for its Priority Service Register.

This provides you with free, extra services and may help protect you from disconnection if you struggle to pay your energy bills if your supplier has signed up to the Energy UK Safety Net scheme.

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.

Benefits' entitlements

You may be missing out on the financial help you are entitled to through welfare benefits. Claiming your entitlements can not only maximise your income to help you pay your bills, but can also trigger eligibility 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.

Those on low incomes and claiming certain benefits may also qualify for the Cold Weather Payment, money given during periods of very cold weather.

Try the free Turn2us Benefits Calculator to check you are claiming the support you are entitled to.

Charitable grants

Did you know that there are over 3,000 grant-giving charities in the UK that give grants and other services to help people in need? Each is set up to assist specific groups of people on low incomes, and eligibility criteria can include occupation, location 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. Some energy suppliers have also set up charitable trusts to help struggling customers.

You can check your eligibility for grants and other support according to your personal circumstances by using the free Turn2us Grants Search.

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