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    Amethyst's Avatar

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    Default Help with Utility bills for vulnerable consumers

    Help for vulnerable consumers


    If you are struggling to pay for your energy the following help is available:

    Contact your energy supplier
    Some suppliers offer cheaper energy deals to those customers on low incomes. Many suppliers can offer free or subsidised energy efficiency measures to customers on low incomes as part of the Government’s Energy Efficiency scheme.

    Energy Saving Trust
    The government funded Energy Saving Trust has advice on energy efficiency measures for domestic consumers at the website of the energy savings trust - link opens in a new browser window.

    Home Heat Helpline
    The Energy Retail Association, which represents energy suppliers, has set up the Home Heat Helpline (0800 33 66 99). It is a free national helpline for vulnerable customers having difficulties paying their fuel bills. For more information visit the home heat helpline website - link opens in a new browser window.

    Switch payment method
    Changing payment method can make it easier to manage your energy bills. Also don’t forget that you may be able to reduce your energy bills if you shop around for a better deal for your energy.

    Winter fuel payments
    You could get between £100 and £300 tax-free to help pay your heating bills if you were born on or before 5 January 1952. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’.
    Most payments are made automatically between November and December. You usually get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you get the State Pension or another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction or Child Benefit). If you qualify but don’t get paid automatically, you’ll need to make a claim.


    Warm front (has been discontinued)

    Energy Assistance Scheme
    Consumers in Scotland ONLY The Energy Assistance Scheme is primarily aimed at people who are in receipt of income-based benefits and the over 60s. Everyone is eligible, however, for free energy efficiency advice and, when applicable, a benefit and tax credit check to ensure access to the lowest cost energy tariffs. Homeowners or private tenants in receipt of certain benefits may also be eligible for free home insulation, free central heating systems and other energy efficiency measures.


    P
    riority Service Register (PSR)
    If you are of pensionable age, disabled or chronically sick you can qualify for the Priority Service Register (PSR) by ringing your gas and electricity companies. Customers on the register are entitled to additional services free of charge, such as:

    • free annual gas safety checks for qualifying customers,
    • password schemes,
    • bills available in large print and braille as well as talking bills,
    • quarterly meter reading services (if no person occupying the premises is able to read the meter),
    • having a prepayment meter moved to improve access,
    • bill nominee scheme, and
    • priority in an emergency (this could include providing alternative heating and cooking facilities in the event of supply disconnection).


    Suppliers are also prohibited from disconnecting a premises occupied by a customer eligible for the PSR during the winter months (1 October - 31 March).

    Debt and disconnection
    Suppliers make considerable efforts to encourage customers to discuss their circumstances with them directly so that a suitable payment arrangement can be put in place to recover the debt. Failing that, suppliers have an obligation to offer the installation of a prepayment meter to avoid the need for disconnection.
    Suppliers have put in place a further safety net offering further protection for vulnerable customers. This includes: fitting a prepayment meter (where it is safe to do so) or putting the customer onto the Fuel Direct payment scheme. If offers of help are refused and the customer continues to be at risk, social services will be notified for further support and assistance.
    Last edited by Amethyst; 25th September 2013 at 09:44:AM. Reason: updating links and info
    “We may not win by protesting, but if we don’t protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win.” Hetty Bower

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