What is it and how does it affect me?

by Phil Kelly, Aspire's Money Matters Specialist

Earlier this year the government announced financial support to help households cope with the increased cost of electricity and gas. The main feature was to give all households in Council Tax Bands A-D a non-repayable payment of £150, most of which have been paid in April or May.

The continued rising costs of energy, world goods and oil have contributed to rising inflation and further support measures have been announced. Answers to some of the common questions below may give a better understanding of how the measures affect you

I have heard that individuals in receipt of disability benefits will receive additional support, is this true and how does it work?

Claimants who are in receipt of certain disability benefits on 25th May 2022 will receive a one off payment of £150 in September. This will be paid automatically and does not need to be repaid and is in addition to any other support that is paid.

What benefits qualify for this payment?

There are a range of benefits including Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Scottish Disability Benefits, Armed Forces Independence Payment, Constant Attendance Allowance and War Pension Mobility Supplement.

Has there been any support announced for older people who are retired and may find it difficult to meet rising energy costs?

Yes, currently all pensioner households who qualify for the annual Winter Fuel Payment will receive an extra top up of £300 in November /December 2022 and this does not need to be repaid.

How do I claim the £300 and will it affect my existing benefits?

The £300 top up is in addition to any other support paid and will not affect any other benefits or the benefit cap. It will be paid automatically to households who qualify and is non-taxable.

Has there been any further support announced for those who are on benefits regardless of age or disability?

Yes, it has been recognised that many people are struggling to meet their costs at the moment and this is likely to continue in the coming winter as energy costs are expected to rise even further. As a result, a payment of £650 will be made to households receiving means tested benefits and does this not need to be repaid.

Which benefits qualify?

Households in receipt of one of the following benefits as of 25th May 2022 (or if a claim has begun by this date which is subsequently successful) will qualify. The benefits are: Universal Credit, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Related Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Pension Credit.

How do I claim, will it affect my existing benefits and when will the payments be made?

You do not need to claim as payment will be made automatically to those who qualify. The £650 payment will not affect benefits and will be paid in two sums of £325, the first from July and the second in the autumn.

Earlier this year it was announced that every electricity account would be credited with £200 and this would be repaid at £40 per year over the following 5 years, is that still the case?

This support measure has been doubled to reflect the significant energy costs expected this coming winter. As a result, the amount credited to electricity accounts has been increased to £400 and will not need to be repaid.

Again, do I need to claim this money and how will it be paid?

For customers paying electricity by direct debit the provider will automatically credit their account. Customers with pre-pay meters will have the money applied to their meter or paid via voucher. It is expected the £400 will be spread over six payments from October 2022 to March 2023.

If I qualify for one of the support measures, will this stop me getting any of the others?

No, the measures announced are all stand-alone support and a person could qualify for all if eligible. This could include:

  • £150 disability support
  • £300 pensioner support
  • £650 means tested benefits support
  • £400 credit to electricity account

Support is being paid to those who are eligible, does this mean that all energy costs will be covered?

Although it’s not certain, it is expected that energy prices will rise further in the autumn and the support announced is designed to help with energy bills. However, in most cases it is unlikely they will meet the full costs anticipated during the coming 12 months.

The support announced appears to be aimed at those with electricity accounts and in receipt of benefits. Is there any support for those who may not be on benefits and not using electricity such as those using oil or gas only for their energy?

The government are providing £500 million of local support via the Household Support Fund which will now run until March 2023. This fund is designed to help those with payments towards rising costs of food, energy & water bills and for whatever reason are still struggling.

How do I apply to the Household Support Fund if I need further support with the cost of living?

Anyone who feels they need extra support should contact their local council who are administering the fund and they will decide on a case by case basis as to whom and how much extra support may be given.

Apart from energy, if you have any concerns paying any bills or commitments such as water, council tax, credit, loans, rent or mortgage, always talk to your provider as soon as possible so that can work with you to overcome difficult times.

During 2022 keep reading our Aspire Money Matters Blog for regular updates on the energy situation, including news on additional government support that may be put in place.

If you need any further help or just want to talk things through Aspire's Money Matters offers free impartial guidance to people affected by Spinal Cord Injury about effective budgeting, keeping control of finances and, where needed, help to become debt free.

For free and impartial guidance call our Money Matters Specialist on 020 8420 8960.

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