Find out what energy support may be entitled to, or what to do if things go wrong with your provider.
What support exists?
Warm Home Discount (WHD)
What is it?
Larger energy suppliers offer Warm Home Discount; a one-off payment of £140 towards your energy bills. The money comes directly off your bill, rather than being paid into your bank account.
Who is eligible?
You may be eligible if you’re:
You qualify for the discount if on 4 July 2021 all of the following apply:
You should've received a letter between October and December 2021 telling you how to get the discount if you qualify. Your letter will say if you need to call a helpline by 28 February 2022 to confirm your details. Your electricity supplier will apply the discount to your bill by 31 March 2022.
You may be able to apply directly to your electricity supplier for help if you do not get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit but:
How to apply for WHD if you are in the Broader group
Your electricity supplier decides who can get the discount. The number of discounts suppliers can give is limited. Check with your supplier as early as possible to see if you’re eligible and how to apply. Check with them even if you were eligible for a discount last year. Your electricity supplier will apply the discount to your bill by 31 March 2022. Find out more about the Warm Home Discount Scheme on GOV.UK.
Priority Services Register (PSR)
What is it?
All suppliers are required to maintain a Priority Services Register (PSR). This is a register of domestic customers who, for non-financial reasons, may be in a vulnerable situation. IF you are on the PSR you are entitled to free non-financial services to address needs relating to communication, safety and/or access.
How can it help?
Suppliers will work out how to support their customers when they apply to the PSR. But here are some things suppliers can help with:
Who is eligible?
This list gives some idea of who can join – but it’s not exhaustive. Support can also be given to those experiencing temporary difficulties in their lives – such as bereavement, pregnancy or recovering from an operation. But, generally, it’s possible for you to join the Priority Services Register if you are:
Winter Fuel Payment
The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual one-off payment to help you pay for heating during the winter. You will usually get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you were born on or before 5 October 1954. Find how much you can get, and how to claim on GOV.UK.
Cold Weather Payments
Cold Weather Payments are one-off payments to help you pay for extra heating costs when it’s very cold. You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over 7 consecutive days. You’ll get £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.
You’ll only be eligible if you already get:
Welsh Government Winter Fuel Support Scheme (Wales)
The Welsh Government Winter Fuel Support Scheme will make funding available to help households with their energy bills. Eligible households will be able to claim a one-off £100 cash payment to cover energy costs.
What happens if my supplier fails?
Even if your supplier stops operating, Ofgem – the energy regulator – will automatically switch you onto a new supplier so there will be no disruption to your supply of energy. You should take a meter reading but not do anything else until your new supplier has been in touch with you. Customers of failed suppliers who are switched to a new supplier are protected by the price cap.
Suppliers cannot charge customers of failed suppliers more than the level of the price cap. Once the new supplier contacts you, ask them to put you on their cheapest tariff or shop around and switch if you want to. You will not be charged exit fees.
If you have a Prepayment Meter (PPM) and/or you no longer have electricity/gas
You will still be able to top up your meter as you would normally while Ofgem appoint a new supplier for you. You won’t lose supply. If you are having problems topping up or your card or token won’t work, you can contact Citizens Advice,.
If you are in credit, will you get this money back?
Money you have paid into your account will be refunded to you if you are in credit. Costs for the energy you have used but have not had a bill for will be deducted from your account balance. If you are a prepayment meter customer, credit on your meter will continue to be used as you use energy. You should continue to top up as normal if you need to.
If I’m paying back debt, will I need to continue doing this?
This depends on what your new supplier agrees with your old supplier. The new supplier will explain how things will work after Ofgem have appointed them.
Should I cancel my direct debit?
Your new supplier will contact you to explain how they will take on your account. This will include any direct debits. They will also tell you what will happen to credit balances with the old supplier. You can cancel your direct debit before the new supplier contacts you if you want to. You will be able to set up a new direct debit with the new supplier.
What will happen to your Warm Home Discount?
If you are in the 'core group' will automatically receive the Warm Home Discount even if your supplier goes bust and you are moved to another one. This is because suppliers are provided with a list of customers they must apply the discount to. If you are in the 'broader group' you will be able to reapply for the discount. Once appointed, you should contact your new supplier for details of how to reapply.
What will happen to my Smart Export Guarantee Tariff?
If you had a Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) tariff with the failed supplier, once Ofgem have appointed a new supplier you will need to agree a new SEG tariff for your exported electricity to continue to receive SEG payments. You may need to find another SEG supplier if the new supplier is not a SEG licensee. New SEG licensees are only obliged to make payments for exported electricity when a new SEG contract starts.
Free gas safety checks
Suppliers will provide you with a free gas safety check on gas appliances and the gas meter itself every 12 months if you ask your supplier and meet the requirements outlined below.
Who is eligible?
You must fit all the following criteria for a free gas safety check:
• Be a homeowner
• Be in receipt of a means-tested benefit.
• Have asked for a gas safety check.
• Have not received a gas safety check in the last 12 months.
You must also meet one of the following:
• Be of a pensionable age, disabled or chronically sick and live alone.
• Be of a pensionable age, disabled or chronically sick and live with others who are of pensionable age, disabled, or chronically ill or under the age of 18.
• Have at least one child under the age of five years old.
If you are not eligible for a free gas safety check, you should arrange your own gas safety check and use an engineer that is on the Gas Safe Register. If you live in rented accommodation it is your landlord’s responsibility to arrange an annual gas safety check and to provide you with a copy of the completed Gas Safety Check certificate.
If you’re unsure about what your rights are, Citizens Advice have a designated consumer advice line on 0808 223 1133
With Christmas fast approaching, here's what you need to know about the impact BNPL purchases could have on your finances:
WHAT ARE YOU SIGNING UP FOR?
The Buy Now Pay Later customer journey is designed to make spending as easy as possible. Of the 14 million people that used BNPL in the UK in the past year, 39% did so without realising, and 42% didn’t fully understand what they were signing up for.
Only 11% of online checkout pages explicitly warned shoppers they were taking out a credit agreement, and not one of the checkout pages on leading retailers’ websites warned people they could be referred to debt collectors for missed payments.
Companies that focus on the price of the instalment, rather than total price can nudge people to take on more debt than they can manage.
Last year, shoppers were charged a total of £39 million in late fees, and more than 1 in 4 people regretted using Buy Now Pay Later companies.
THE HIDDEN IMPACT OF BUY NOW PAY LATER
Payments that seem small initially can quickly rack up.
In the past year:
Tonia Antoniazzi MP has called on the government to ban imports of hunting trophies without delay.
The government has released details of a proposed bill to ban trophies, but has not said when the bill will come to parliament.
New figures reveal that – despite COVID - British trophy hunters still killed some of the world’s most threatened animals in 2020, including lions, elephants, hippos, giraffes, leopards, bears, and zebras. Other animals shot recently by British hunters include polar bears, rhinos, wolves and wild cats.
Data from CITES – the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species – shows that British hunters shoot on average 200 endangered animals a year.
The Government says its bill to ban trophies has been delayed due to lack of time.
Tonia Antoniazzi MP said “It’s time to bring this barbaric trade to an end. A ban on trophy imports is backed by 85% of voters. I call on the government to bring this bill to Parliament as quickly as possible. The longer it delays, the more animals are killed for so-called sport, selfies and sick souvenirs.”
Downton Abbey star Peter Egan supported the MP’s call, saying:
“We’ve just had the COP summit in Glasgow where politicians discussed how to save wildlife such as polar bears that could go extinct from climate change. Yet trophy hunters are still allowed to shoot polar bears and bring their bodies back to Britain. It’s utter insanity.
“This Christmas, the government can give defenceless animals the gift of life by either publishing its bill or adopting John Spellar’s one instead. There is no justification for delaying any further.”
Eduardo Goncalves, founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, added:
“It has been two years since the ban was promised in the 2019 Queen’s Speech. Another 300 animals at risk of extinction have been killed by British trophy hunters since then. The Government should be moving as swiftly as possible to stop this terrible trade.
“The Government recently adopted Liam Fox MP’s bill on providing lifelong care for people with Down’s Syndrome, in order to bring the law into effect. It should do the same with John Spellar MP’s bill to ban trophies. Delaying action costs lives of some of the world’s most threatened animals.”
Last week I attended a parliamentary drop-in find out more about Women's Aid's #DeserveToBeHeard campaign.
After hearing about the campaign and speaking with survivors of domestic abuse I committed my support for the campaign. Here are some resources for constituents from the campaign.
Find out more: www.womensaid.org.uk/deservetobeheard/