There are a number of support schemes available for vulnerable people on low incomes who are struggling to cover the cost of their fuel bill.
The Winter Fuel Payment - the winter fuel payment is an annual one-off payment to help you pay for heating during the winter. Anyone born on or before 5 January 1953 can get it, if you live in the UK.
Cold Weather Payments - cold weather payments are available to people who are in receipt of income-based benefits, such as Income-Related JSA, Income-Related ESA, Income Support, Pension Credit and Universal Credit. The payments become available if the temperature in your area is recorded as or forecast to be zero degrees celsius or below for 7 consecutive days or more. You should check the precise eligibility of each type of benefit by visiting:
Warm Homes Discount - this discount is available to recipients of the guaranteed credit component of Pension Credit and to people who have a low income. Not all suppliers are part of this scheme, so you will need to check with your supplier to see if they are.
Grants to Help Pay Off Energy Debts - British Gas, EDF and E.on all offer grants that are open to anyone (not just customers). These grants are paid in respect of fuel arrears. Other companies, such as Npower, Scottish Power and Ovo Energy run schemes just for their customers.
ECO (Energy Companies Obligation) - the Energy Company Obligation is a government energy efficiency scheme in Great Britain to help reduce CO2 emissions and tackle fuel poverty. Under ECO, larger energy suppliers fund the installation of energy efficiency measures in British households, such as loft and wall insulation. In order to qualify, an applicant must either (1) live in social housing with an energy efficiency banding of E,F or G or (2) receive certain income-related welfare benefits or (3) be referred by a local authority.
Advice - SHINE recommends that if you are on a low income you should seek advice regarding your possible entitlement to welfare benefits. Below are listed a number of organisations in Brighton & Hove that may be able to offer such advice:
- Citizens Advice Bureau:
Tisbury Road Office, Hove Town Hall, Tisbury Rd / 0300 330 9033
The CAB offers a wide variety of advice, particularly welfare benefits, debt, housing and employment problems.
- BHT Advice:
Community Base, 113 Queens Road, Brighton / 01273 234737
BHT Advice offers Legal Advice under Legal Aid funding. In addition, BHT Advice provides limited advice in relation to debt and welfare benefits, where the client has a financial problem that is threatening their housing security (ie rent arrears).
- Brighton Unemployed Centre Family Project:
6 Tilbury Road, Brighton / 01273 671213
BUCFP offers welfare rights advice, including application completion, contacting the DWP and Local Authority and assisting with mandatory reconsiderations and Tribunals.
- St Luke’s Advice Service:
18 Exeter Street, Brighton / 01273 549203
St Luke’s Advice Service can assist with welfare benefits and debt advice. They offer advice and caseworking services.
- Money Advice Plus:
Tisbury Road Office, Hove Town Hall, Tisbury Rd / 01273 664000
Money Advice Plus is an advice organisation specialising in money matters. MAPs can assist with welfare benefits and debt.
- Moneyworks Advice Line
0800 988 7037
The Moneyworks Advice Line is a Brighton and Hove Advice Partnership service, run by several of the organisations listed above. Clients can all the advice line and receive free and confidential debt and welfare benefits advice and information.
- Sussex Interpreting Services:
BMECP, 10a Fleet Street, Brighton
Sussex Interpreting Service offers a free drop-in service to assist people whose first language is not English with completing forms, making appointments, reading letters, linking up with other services and making telephone calls. They provide welfare benefit and debt advice and information, as well as providing assistance with a number of other areas.
- Refugee Radio
Community Base, 113 Queens Road, Brighton / 01273 234868
Refugee Radio offers a variety of practical advice to immigrants and refugees. This includes some assistance with welfare benefit applications and appeals, especially where the client is suffering PTSD.
- Possibility People
Montague House, Montague Place, Brighton / 01273 894040
Possibility People is a charity based in Brighton that provides advice and assistance to disabled people, carers and families / friends. They can assist with some welfare benefit matters, including benefit checks and applying for welfare benefits.