What to do if you are struggling with your energy bills

Find out more about what is happening to energy prices and why, and what you can do if these price rises affect you.

Over the past few months, there has been a worldwide rise in energy prices, and this has created a crisis in Britain's energy market, and a risk of significant rises in gas and electricity prices for residents. A number of energy suppliers have stopped trading recently and more are at risk.

If you are an RBH tenant and you are worried about your energy bills, please talk to us. Our Money Advice Service offers free advice and support to all our tenants. You can call us on Freephone 0800 027 7769 or enquire online.

You may also be eligible for £140 off your electricity bill if you are eligible for the Warm Home Discount scheme. See below for more details.

Energy Bills - frequently asked questions

  • What is happening to energy bills?

    Twelve months ago, households with average energy usage who were on the very cheapest gas and electricity deals were paying about £800 a year on a variable rate tariff.

    Thanks to a worldwide squeeze on energy supplies, the price that energy companies pay to obtain gas and electricity has risen massively over the last few months.

    This means that customers are facing higher bills, and some energy companies are not able to pay these higher wholesale prices.

  • What is the price cap?

    The cap is the maximum your supplier can charge you for a unit of energy, It applies to the standard rate tariffs the energy companies offer.

    For a household with average gas and electricity consumption the new charges will work out at £1,277 a year – households who use a lot of energy could easily see their bills rise to £2,000 a year. For pre-payment customers with average usage the new cap will equate to an annual bill of £1,309.

    The price cap is set by Ofgem (the Government's regulator) every six months, with the new limit coming into force each October and April. Those who choose a fixed-rate deal will have their unit prices fixed for the term of the offer – unless the provider stops trading.

  • I'm with a smaller supplier - what happens if it goes bust?

    The good news is that you won’t be cut off and your lights and gas will stay on. However, you will automatically be assigned a new supplier, and you have no say over who it will be.

  • Will I stay on the same tariff as I paid the failed supplier?

    No, and this is the problem for consumers who have shopped around for the cheapest deals. In previous years the new supplier sometimes honoured the old firm’s tariffs but that is not going to happen now.

  • What is going to happen to prices in the future?

    We can't know for sure, but there is a real risk that prices will continue to rise. We know that this will have a big impact on many local residents and we are doing all we can to help.

    We hope that the wholesale market (the price that suppliers pay to obtain the gas and electricity in the first place) calms down and that the prices paid by domestic users will then fall.

  • I can't afford these increases - what help is available?

    First of all - talk to us! Our team offers free advice and support to all RBH tenants. You can call us on Freephone 0800 027 7769, email incomeaccounts@rbh.org.uk, or make an online enquiry.

    Households on a low income and in receipt of certain benefits may be able to get £140 off their energy bill this winter under the "warm home discount" scheme. Major suppliers, including British Gas, EDF, E.ON and Scottish Power, have reopened their schemes for 2021-22.

    If you get the guaranteed credit element of pension credit, you should get the warm home discount automatically. Equally, households with an income of £16,190 or less can apply. Those receiving child tax credit, income support or income-based jobseeker’s allowance, and a host of other benefits are also eligible but it’s on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Tell me more about the Warm Home Discount scheme

    You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2021 to 2022 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme. The scheme opens on 18 October 2021.

    The money is not paid to you - it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between October and March.

    You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity. Contact your supplier to find out more.

    The discount will not affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.

     

    Eligibility

    There are 2 ways to qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme:

    1. If you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit

    You should automatically qualify for the discount, if on 4 July 2021 all of the following apply:

    You should receive a letter between October and December 2021 telling you how to get the discount if you qualify.

    Your letter will say if you need to call a helpline by 28 February 2022 to confirm your details.

    Your electricity supplier will apply the discount to your bill by 31 March 2022.

    Warm Home Discount helpline, telephone: 0800 731 0214

    1. If you’re on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme.

    You may be able to apply directly to your electricity supplier for help if you do not get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, but the following must apply:

    To get the discount you’ll need to stay with your supplier until it’s paid.

    How to apply

    Your electricity supplier decides who can get the discount.

    The number of discounts suppliers can give is limited. Check with your supplier as early as possible to see if you’re eligible and how to apply.

    Check with them even if you were eligible for a discount last year.

    Your electricity supplier will apply the discount to your bill by 31 March 2022.

    Pre-pay or pay-as-you-go meters

    You can still qualify for the discount if you use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter.

    Your electricity supplier can tell you how you’ll get the discount if you’re eligible, for example a voucher you can use to top up your meter.

  • I'm also worried about the end of the £20 Universal Credit uplift

    We have produced a dedicated guide to the changes and reductions in the Government's coronavirus support: Do the Government's changes to Coronavirus support affect you?

    If you are worried about these reductions, please talk to our Money Advice Team on Freephone 0800 027 7769 or by e-mail to incomeaccounts@rbh.org.uk.

    We continue to campaign alongside fellow housing providers for the Government to restore the £20 Universal Credit lifeline.

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