Utility bills are rising around the country, and I know that this is concerning a lot of people around South Ribble. If you're struggling to pay your bills or are facing homelessness, there are quite a few avenues of support available to you that will hopefully be of assistance.
Energy prices are, understandably, on everyone's minds right now. Putin's war in Ukraine has put a squeeze on the amount of gas that Russia is exporting. Whilst the UK does not buy its gas from Russia, we still buy from the international market, which has been impacted by the war. In order to reduce the financial pressure on families, businesses, and other organisations, the government have introduced a number of policies:
- The Energy Price Guarantee has capped the unit price for gas and electric for households, businesses, and non-profit organisations such as churches and public sector properties. This unit cap is expected to mean that an average household will spend no more than £2,500 on energy, but your actual bill will vary depending upon how much energy you use.
- For households, the price cap will be 34p per kilowatt hour for electricity and 10.3p per kilowatt hour for gas for the average consumer, according to Gov.uk.
- The Energy Bills Support Scheme will see a £400 discount automatically applied to your bills over a six-month period. This is in addition to the Energy Price Guarantee.
- Equivalent support will be given to those not on typical energy sources, such as those in park homes or who use heating oil.
Household Bills & Utilities
Money Saving Expert (MSE) have put together an excellent hub on utility costs that is filled with information and tools you can use to make sure you're not paying any more than you need to. If you're struggling with the costs of your utility bills, you can check out MSE's hub here to find some ways to cut down on costs.
Our local water provider is United Utilities. If you're struggling with your water bill, they have a very useful hub available here to help you with your bills.
If you're in certain circumstances, there are a few avenues of government support available to help reduce your bills:
The Warm Home Discount Scheme applies a one-off discount to your energy bills over winter if you get either the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or are on a low income in certain circumstances.
The Winter Fuel Payment is automatically paid to pensioners who are also on certain benefits to help them with the cost of heating their homes.
The Cold Weather Payment is paid to those on certain benefits if their area is expected to go through a patch of particularly cold weather.
Support with Rent and Mortgages
If you are renting, you may be eligible for Housing Benefit. There is no set amount of Housing Benefit that you will receive; it is based entirely on your circumstances.
The Government can help you cover the costs of your mortgage interest payments if you're on certain benefits and struggling to pay.
The Government have provided a one-off, £150 council tax rebate to all households in council tax bands A-D to help reduce the cost of living. This eligibility bracket covers over 80% of households in the country. You should have received the rebate automatically, but if you haven't, or have any queries, it is worth inquiring with your local borough council.
If you're on a low income or receive certain benefits, you may be eligible for Council Tax Support from your local borough council. This support depends upon your specific circumstances and can cut down on some of your council tax bill.
It is mandated that if you're either legally homelessness or are going to become homeless within the next 8 weeks that your local council must help you.
Homeless Link have set up Homeless England, which they advertise as a comprehensive database of homelessness services.
If you're struggling and would like to talk to a specialist advisor, British Gas are planning on running community pop-ups in Post Offices around the country in early 2023. These allow you to pop in and receive one-to-one advice from a trained specialist in a confidential environment