Warning for low-income households set to be £200 a year worse off – how to get help if you’re struggling | The Sun

THE UK's poorest households must find an extra £200 to pay crippling energy bills over the next 12 months.

Consumer group Which? warned that up to 2.8million low-income homes across Britain will each be around £209 worse off this year.

The government's Energy Bill Support Scheme gave all households £400 off their energy bills between October and the end of March.

It has now ended, meaning all households will see their bills go up by £67 a month.

Energy prices have started to drop with Ovo unveiling the first fixed rate tariff below the Energy Price Guarantee last week.

It means the average household energy bill is set to fall by roughly £500 in July when the guarantee ends.

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Experts at data consultancy Cornwall Insight calculate that will take the average bill to around £2,100.

But even though energy deals are getting cheaper and low-income households use less energy than higher earners, they will be hit hardest.

They will benefit least from lower bills and the loss of the government payment will feel much more painful.

Anyone with a prepayment meter who cannot spread costs across the year will suffer even more, with a spike in costs during the cold winter months.

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Cut price energy is needed urgently

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said a discounted energy tariff is urgently needed.

She said: "The government does not currently have an effective means of targeting financial support towards those on the lowest incomes in time for this coming winter. 

"Ministers have announced that cost of living payments to those on qualifying benefits will continue.

"However, this will leave low-income households who are struggling to make ends meet but do not qualify for benefits out in the cold."

Which? is not the only group calling for change.

Citizens Advice, money saving expert Martin Lewis and Energy UK have also recently backed a social energy tariff, arguing that a means-tested cash payment would be the best form of support.

Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "High energy costs have left too many people choosing between heating and eating.

"Uncertainty over future high prices only adds to the stress and worry felt in households across the country.

"A social tariff protects millions of people from spending excessive amounts on their bills."

Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert, has campaigned for years to discount energy bills for those who need it most.

"Now it could be a crucial building block to help repair our broken consumer energy market," he said.

In 2022, Citizens Advice helped 50% more people with energy issues than the year before, and more than double that of 2020.

Last year, the charity saw more people who couldn’t afford to top up their prepayment meter than in the previous 10 years combined.

Where to get help

The UK's energy watchdog Ofgem said if you are struggling to pay for energy or think you may get into difficulty, contact your supplier.

The rules mean suppliers must offer payment plans you can afford and you can ask for ‘emergency credit’ if you use a prepay meter and can’t top up.

The charity Turn2us has a grants and benefits eligibility checker and can support you through application processes.

Citizens Advice or Advice Direct Scotland may also be able to help you manage things with your supplier if you're considered vulnerable.

If you get benefits, you might be able to get £150 off your electricity bill or £150 added to your prepayment meter. 

You don’t need to apply for the scheme – payments are automatic. 

You should get the Warm Home Discount if you or your partner got the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit on 21 August 2022.

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And if you're on Universal Credit, there are eight ways you could get help with energy bills worth up to £4,225.

Citizens Advice has a full list of energy bill help on offer and can give you free and confidential advice.

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