The UK is going through an energy crisis, meaning that there is currently a shortage of fuel to power things like cars and central heating. This shortage is due to many factors and primarily affects gas.

As a result of this gas shortage, and biannual inflation increases; the energy price cap has increased by about 54% on average from the 1st April 2022.  A price cap refers to the maximum amount of money a company may charge for energy.

Some energy providers have collapsed. Customers of these providers will be transferred to new companies and notified. If you wish to change companies, you will not be charged an exit fee.

The government has also ended the temporary £20 Universal Credit increase which was introduced due to Covid.

All of this means that many people, especially those on a low income, will be concerned about how they can afford to pay bills, use appliances to cook food and wash their clothes, and keep their homes warm.

We have put together some useful information if you’re worried about your energy bills, your energy supplier or how to keep your home warm.

Many energy suppliers are requesting up to date meter readings before this increase by the 7th April. Check with your energy company to see whether your meter is a smart meter. If so, they should receive automatic readings. If not, then find your meter (your energy company may be able to help with location) and ensure that the display shows numbers followed by KWH. If there is a small 1 on the meter, it may be recording day and night usage separately, in which case cycle through the displays, noting down the KWH.

Energy companies will accept readings via phone or email; however, the quickest way is to use their dedicated app as this will upload your results directly.

If you have not given readings in some time, you may receive a catch-up bill. For financial help please see the links below.

Usually with increases in pricing we would recommend shopping around, however in this case it is far more likely that if you leave an energy company, particularly if you are already on a fixed rate contract, that they will have increased prices.


Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer body for energy consumers in Great Britain, meaning that they are commissioned to deliver advice around energy.

However you pay for your energy, Citizens Advice have lots of useful information on their website, and you can also contact a specialist advisor to discuss your situation in more detail:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-help-paying-your-bills/struggling-to-pay-your-energy-bills/

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-help-paying-your-bills/you-cant-afford-to-top-up-your-prepayment-meter/

They’ve also got guidance on what to do if your energy supplier goes bust:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/problems-with-your-energy-supply/your-energy-supplier-has-gone-bust/


Help from suppliers

Many energy suppliers can offer extra support if you’re vulnerable, including adding you to their Priority Services Register:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-help-paying-your-bills/getting-extra-support-from-your-energy-supplier/

And if you’re on a low income you may be eligible for grants and funding support such as Cold Weather payments and Winter Fuel payments:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-help-paying-your-bills/grants-and-benefits-to-help-you-pay-your-energy-bills/


Help from your local authority and charities

Many local authorities run a Welfare Assistance or Welfare Provision Scheme where they can help people on a low income who are struggling to afford their bills (as well as offering support with furniture and food vouchers).

End Furniture Poverty have created this great tool where you can search for your local council, and it will take you to their Welfare Provision Scheme page:
https://endfurniturepoverty.org/local-welfare-provision-lwp/.

You can also contact Turn2Us, or use their grant finder, to search for hardship funds that are offered by different energy suppliers:
https://grants-search.turn2us.org.uk/

National Energy Action (NEA) have a wealth of resources from energy advice, one to one support, and vouchers for prepayment meters.
They run a helpline, open Monday – Friday, 10am - 12Noon: 0800 304 7159

They also have a Live chat service and an online referral form:
https://www.nea.org.uk/wash-advice/wash-referral/

For any other queries, please see their collection of resources and help below:
https://www.nea.org.uk/wash-advice/additional-help/


Further information and advice

Ofgem, the governing body that handles the energy industry released this report with the proposed energy increase:
https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications/price-cap-increase-ps693-april

The Money Saving Expert is full of tips and advice on how to save money and energy, the 2nd link is a comprehensive list of actions that can be taken and are fully costed: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/energy/

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/heat-the-human-not-the-home-save-energy/

The Mix, who offer essential advice to under 25s, have also got some great articles about how to keep your energy bills down, what to do if you’re anxious about the environment, and how you can become more eco-friendly:

https://www.themix.org.uk/housing/your-place/how-to-keep-your-energy-bills-down-7919.html

https://www.themix.org.uk/travel-and-lifestyle/activism-and-campaigning/how-do-i-cope-with-eco-anxiety-40764.html

https://www.themix.org.uk/travel-and-lifestyle/activism-and-campaigning/how-can-i-become-more-eco-friendly-41094.html


If you are a student and are worried about paying your bills, you can talk to your university’s Student Support service – they can offer advice and guidance around budgeting as well as giving you information about hardship funding.


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