ENERGY bills were top of the agenda today as Rishi Sunak delivered his Spring Statement to the House of Commons – here's all the help you can get with your bills.
Brits are facing rising costs across the board, with the heaviest of blows coming from rocketing energy bills.
The Chancellor has been under pressure to tackle issues like the energy price cap increase which will see energy bills rise a record £693 in just days.
The price cap is in place to stop households from overpaying on their bills, but it's set to escalate to £1,971 a year from April 1.
That means many people will have to fork out a lot more to stay warm, alongside the financial pressures of price rises at the supermarket and tax increases too.
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They were bitterly disappointed to find more measures won't be introduced to bring down the costs of keeping the lights on and more.
But he did announce that:
- Fuel duty will be cut by 5p per litre
- While VAT is scrapped on insulation
- And funding for poor households will be raised by £500million
The cut to fuel costs won't directly help households lower their energy bills, but it means that they won't have to fork out as much on filling up their cars.
But scrapping the 5% VAT on insulation costs as well other materials like solar panels will mean households can take up energy-saving measures for less.
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More than 19 million homes are rated band D or below for energy efficiency which means they don't hold heat well enough and the heat that is pumped out is wasted through the cracks and gaps.
The change announced by the Chancellor today will come into effect from April though, meaning households can plug up these gaps for less and start saving.
It also means a family having a solar panel installed will see tax savings worth over £1,000 and could save £300 a year on bills too.
And the doubling of funding under the Household Support Fund means more households could get cash help with their bills.
Plenty of examples of the scheme so far have given homes money to go toward their energy bills, as well as cash to spend at the supermarket and more.
But the £500million rise announced today will mean more could be eligible to claim the help.
Meanwhile, the energy help previously announced includes:
£200 energy bill loan
Rishi Sunak announced that all energy customers will get a £200 refund on their energy bill later in the year.
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 government is hoping the help will spread the worst of this year’s energy price shock over time.
But the discount will need to be repaid in £40 annual instalments starting from April next year for five years.
Martin Lewis attempted to clear up "confusion" and "misunderstanding" around the scheme as he explained how it's "not optional – you can't choose not to get it."
He confirmed that "you will then have your bill automatically – without choice – increased by £40 a year. That is how it will work."
£150 council tax rebate
Millions of households will be getting a £150 council tax rebate this April to help cover the cost of rising bills.
The council tax rebate won't bring your energy bills down, but the £150 is designed to help households battle the cost of living.
Those in council tax bands A to D will get the cash – which is around 80% of homes.
You can find out which band you're in by using the government's search tool – you just need to enter your postcode.
Those who qualify for the £150 rebate will get the payment automatically- you won't have to apply.
However, you will get it more quickly if you pay your council tax by direct debit.
Unlike the energy bill refund, you won't have to give the money back.
The government says it expects the vast majority of people to get payments in April.
If you live in band E-H you won't be eligible for the council tax rebate.
However, you could get help from a £144million discretionary fund the government is providing for those in need who don't qualify for the rebate.
You could challenge your council tax band if you think it's wrong so you don't miss out on the cash.
But beware, a revaluation of your band could put you in a band where you pay MORE council tax, so consider the risks.
Up to £300 from winter fuel payment
One-off winter fuel payments from the government of between £100 and £300 are given to pensioners too.
To qualify for the payout, you'll need to have been born on or before September 26, 1955 – the date changes every year.
You must also have lived in the UK for at least one day during the "qualifying week". For payments this winter, this was September 20 and 26, 2021.
The money is tax-free and won't affect any other benefits that you get, such as Universal Credit, but how much you get depends on your circumstances, like if you live alone or you get certain benefits.
It applies to all households with at least one member above state pension age, with £200 for those under 80, and £300 to those over 80.
But the payments are made automatically, usually between November and December – so you should have already got it this season.
If you're entitled to the payout but didn't receive the cash by January 14, 2022 then you should contact the helpline on 0800 7310160 from England, Scotland and Wales.
You have just days to make a claim for the missed payment though as the deadline is March 31.
Up to £25 a week cold weather payments
You could be entitled to £25 a week if the temperature drops below zero in your area between November 1 and March 31, to help you pay for the increased energy costs.
The temperature will have to stay that low for seven consecutive days before the cold weather payment is handed out.
The UK is set for a a 21 degree scorcher today, so the payment criteria doesn't necessarily apply.
But temperatures will drop again to around freezing tonight, so you might find you're still eligible this year as the scheme doesn't close for another week.
And temperatures will continue to drop next week, with a possible -10C in Scotland next Friday where snow might even fall.
The payment was already triggered in dozens of postcodes earlier in the year when freezing temperatures set in – find out which ones here.
But as well as experiencing the cold weather you must already be getting certain benefits to qualify.
Those include pension credit, income support, jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, and Universal Credit.
£150 Warm Home Discount
The Warm Home Discount Scheme is a one-off payment that goes towards your heating costs.
Applications have already closed this winter, but a revamped version of the scheme is on its way later in the year.
The government will be expanding the scheme so more low income households will benefit.
It means there's an extra £10 on offer in support, up from the previous £140 that has been offered in years past.
Households can claim £150 under the revised scheme but that doesn't come into play until October.
The discount is designed to bring down the costs of your bills with a direct amount that comes straight off your total.
It means you won't see the money as cold hard cash, but you will feel the benefit with a reduced energy bill in the harshest months.
It's usually paid straight to your energy supplier who then apply the discount to your bills.
But if you have a pre-payment meter, you'll be sent a voucher that you can use to top up your account.
Three million households could be able to claim, but they must be in receipt of Pension Credit, Guarantee Credit, or some working age benefits to be eligible.
You may be able to get a budgeting loan from the Social Fund to help with intermittent expenses.
You're more likely to be eligible if you receive pension credit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance or income-related employment and support allowance.
Universal Credit claimants will need to apply for a budgeting advance – these are interest free loans, but must be paid back.
You will need to have been receiving benefits for more than six months before applying.
The payments are designed to help with intermittent expenses which are difficult to budget for, such as the cost of installing a prepayment meter or connection charges if you move home.
It's best to check cash you can get that you don't have to pay back before applying for a loan or advance.
£750 hardship grant
Away from the direct government help, energy customers can apply through their supplier for hardship grants to help cover costs.
British Gas customers could get up to £750 to help with their energy bills for example.
Customers can apply for grants of between £250 and £750 to write-off chunks of debt, and the average payment so far is £532.
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To get a grant you need to be living in fuel poverty and not have more than £1,000 saved up though.
British Gas will close the scheme at the end of March, unless the £2million funding runs out first.
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