Do you know about grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills?
The energy price cap increased by 12% in October last year. This means that standard tariffs could rise by £139 per year with prepayment customers paying even more. Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said “This is a hugely unsettling time for millions of energy customers”.
Low-income families could be heading for a perfect storm this winter. With the rise in energy prices, almost half (45%) of people earning less than £21,000 per year are worried they’ll struggle to pay their energy bills. James Plunkett, Executive Director at Citizens Advice, said: “With bills rising and incomes falling, many families will find it hard to escape. For many, debt will be the inevitable consequence”.
Citizens Advice research also reveals that fuel debt was the most common debt problem in 2020-2021 and the numbers affected could worsen considerably.
Oliver’s Story – “Can you help me before I get deeper into debt?”
Oliver* dropped into one of our local Citizens Advice offices. He said: “There’s been a rise in the cost of things. Our bills have gone up, but our wages haven’t increased – what can we do?”.
Oliver lives with his partner. He works three days a week in a café and alternates working days with his partner so one of them can look after their school and nursery-aged children. Due to the cost of childcare, it would be a struggle for Oliver or his partner to increase their hours. Their bills were mounting up and he was worried they were on the slippery slope to getting deeper into debt.
How we helped Oliver
Our advisers reassured Oliver that he could get help if he and his partner were struggling to afford their energy bills. We talked him through how to apply for the Winter Fuel Payment, Cold Weather Payments and the Warm Home Discount Scheme and pointed out that his energy suppliers might also be able to help them.
Oliver explained he was also struggling to pay off another loan and was finding it difficult to make the monthly payment on a credit card. Our advisers helped Oliver work out which debts he needed to pay off first and then we prepared a budget for him. This enabled Oliver to see how much he had left each month after paying his essential bills. We then prepared a financial statement so that Oliver knew how much to offer each of his creditors. We also signposted Oliver to the online information provided by National Citizens Advice about debt and money issues at our national site.
Oliver is coming back to see us soon. Our advisors will check that he and his partner are receiving their benefit entitlements. This will help them to secure the future for the whole family.
*Name changed to preserve client confidentiality
Do you – or someone you know – want help?
So, if you find yourself in a similar situation and don’t know what to do next – or even if you think you do! – why not contact us. We provide free, impartial, and confidential advice to everyone.
Citizens Advice Waverley contact details:
Tel 0808 278 7980 (freephone) to speak to an adviser
Leave online message
Search our national site by topic
Mole Valley contact details:
Contact East Surrey Domestic Abuse Services on 01737 771350 or email: email@example.com
Surrey Domestic Abuse 9am-9pm Helpline – 01483 776822
In an emergency always dial 999
Reigate and Banstead contact details:
Phone Adviceline: 0808 278 7945 (free) to speak to an adviser (Monday – Friday 9.00 – 16.00)
Email: Use an enquiry form
Self help (website)