FAMILIES who are struggling with the rising cost of living can apply for free cash and vouchers to help with bills.
Millions of households are facing rocketing gas and electricity costs as the energy price cap goes up today.
The price cap hike will take the average bill to £1,971 a year from today.
That means households have to find an extra £693 per year for their bills amid a cost of living crisis, where prices are rising for food, fuel and more.
If you can't afford to pay your energy bills, there is help available.
Charities have set up schemes that can give you free cash to pay your bills.
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Some organisations have reported record numbers of families asking for help as budgets are squeezed tighter than ever.
We round up all the support you can get from these organisations – including other ways to get money off your bills too.
What charities are offering help for energy bills?
The Sun has spotted a number of charities who are offering free cash to hard-up households feeling the pinch.
Whether you're eligible for the help will vary depending on which charity it is, and your personal situation.
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Fuel Bank Foundation
This charity was set up in 2015 to help families with their energy bill issues – and it offers free vouchers to pay these costs.
It is offering support for between 1,400 and 1,500 people a day, according to the Metro.
You can get the vouchers at foodbanks – so you can only getthe emergency help if you're also struggling with food costs.
Families can get £49 worth of fuel vouchers in the winter months, and £30 from April 1 to October 31.
We've asked how many vouchers you can claim and how long they last for, and will update this story as soon as we know more.
To apply for the help, you'll need to contact Citizens Advice, a social worker or a GP to refer you to a foodbank.
You can then go to the foodbank and ask for an application for fuel vouchers.
If your claim is accepted, you'll be given the fuel vouchers.
Let's Talk Charis
Charity Charis manages energy funds and grants on behalf of a number of big energy companies.
The Charis Let's Talk Energy Fund means you can get help paying your bills as well as replacing pricey appliances like boilers.
Although applications have closed, the fund will reopen again in September so it's worth making a note of the date.
Whether your application will be successful depends on factors including your personal financial situation.
If you are on benefits, you'll need to provide letters proving this, and you need to share information on household income and any debts you might have.
What you can get will vary – we've asked for more information on the average amount you can get and will update this when we know more.
You can register your interest for the fund when it reopens here.
Cancer charity Macmillan has launched a new fund worth £3.5million to help people struggling with their bills – including energy costs.
It has committed the extra cash to its Financial Grants scheme, which has already dished out £1.6million since the start of the year.
The grants are to support those living with cancer and who are struggling to cover essential living costs.
It's worth up to £350 and is a one-off payment that is means-tested.
To be eligible, you need to hit the following criteria:
- You have no more than £6,000 in savings for a household of one person or no more than £8,000 for a household of two or more people
- You have a weekly income of no more than £323 per week for a household of one person or no more than £442 per week for a household of two or more people.
To apply you can call 0808 808 00 00 or you can speak to one of your healthcare team, like a district nurse or Macmillan nurse, care professional or benefits adviser who can fill in the form with you online.
Energy company charities
Energy companies have set up charities and grants you can apply to in order to get financial assistance for bills.
For instance British Gas is giving out up to £750 through its new new hardship fund.
But the amount can vary according to your supplier and your circumstances.
It's not just Universal Credit claimants who can get the help, but if you're on the benefit and have a low income you could qualify.
Ask your supplier what's on offer and how to apply, or check here:
- EDF's energy customer support fund
- E.on's energy fund
- Npower's energy fund
- Scottish Power's hardship fund
What other help can I get?
If you're not eligible for help from charities or your application was rejected, you might be able to get help from these schemes instead.
Warm home discount scheme – £140
Suppliers offer the warm home discount scheme which is £140 discount on your bill over winter.
It has closed for this year but it is worth being prepared for applications to opens in October.
Anyone getting pension credit gets the bill discount automatically.
Other who are eligible because they are on a low income need to apply and this can include those on Universal Credit.
You can find more about how to get the help in our guide.
Cold weather payment – up to £75 so far
When temperatures plummet those in low income households can get a £25 payment.
These cold weather payments have already been made in several locations where residents have experienced below zero weather.
The payment is made automatically, including to those on Universal Credit, for each seven day period of low temps.
In the coldest areas three £25 payments have been made so far this winter, adding up to £75 in total.
The scheme closed on March 31 but you should make sure you got the payment if you're eligible.
See if your postcode has qualified for a payment.
New bill discount scheme – £200
The government has announced that every single household will get a £200 discount on their energy bill this year.
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This is part of a package of support designed to help Brits struggling as costs rise and will be applied automatically, but not until October.
The money does have to be paid back, but it will be in the form of £40 added to annual bills over five years from next year.
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