The current cost of living crisis is proving beyond challenging for countless households up and down the country. Food and fuel prices have joined gas and energy in rising at an alarming rate, with the current rate of inflation in the UK reaching 9% last week.
However, help may be available when it comes to energy, courtesy of a charitable hardship fund run by your supplier, as the Mirror reports. Possible support includes the offering of grants, or even your energy debt being wiped completely.
As long as you’re an existing customer, you could be eligible for one of several energy suppliers’ hardship schemes. Help is desperately needed for many people who are finding it difficult to pay their bills, with energy bills expected to rise by a further £800 later this year, as the boss of Ofgem warned.
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These are the energy providers that are still offering this scheme to existing customers:
- Scottish Power Hardship Fund
- Ovo Energy Fund
- E.ON Energy Fund
- E.ON Next Energy Fund
- EDF Energy Customer Support Fund
- Octopus ‘Octo Assist Fund’
An example of the offerings can be found with Bulb, who could provide you with a £140 grant, write off energy debts up to £2,000 and offer energy-efficient appliances. Their eligibilities include being in financial difficulty, you or someone you live with has a disability or long term health problem and you pay for your energy by topping up your meter.
There is one exception when it comes to being a pre-existing customer; the British Gas Energy Trust can be accessed by anyone, providing they meet the necessary eligibility criteria. While the criteria does differ between each fund, the general qualification is that you need to be on a low income or claiming certain benefits, and thus struggling to pay the bills.
An explanation as to why bills can’t be paid will likely be asked for, along with proof of your household income. In addition to the hardship funds, there are around 8,000 grants currently available through the free grants search tool from debt charity Turn2Us.
Again the eligibility criteria varies from grant-to-grant, while they also differ depending on where you live. Specialist energy debt help charities, such as Home Energy Scotland, National Energy Action (NEA) and NI Energy Advice could also help on deciding which grant to apply for.
Other suggestions for getting through this penny pinching squeeze in as best a state as possible include talking to your energy provider, checking if you can claim a Winter Fuel Payment and seeing if you can pay through your benefits.
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