Lower fuel bills

We want you to be able to keep yourself warm this winter and minimise costs at a time when we know that energy costs are rising.
 
Help is available from your energy supplier if you’re struggling. We've also trained our employees you come into contact with, so they can offer you guidance. And we have various grants and other support that may help. If you would like to speak to someone today about saving energy and money, get in touch with us.

Fuel bills

With wholesale energy prices soaring globally, the impact of price rises will depend on your energy supplier and tariff. 

  • If you’re on a fixed price tariff, the price you pay per unit of energy won’t change until the end of your fixed rate period. 
  • If you’re on a variable tariff or prepayment meter, the Energy Price Cap puts an upper limit on the maximum price your supplier can charge you per unit of energy. 

But the cap and most standard variable tariffs went up by 12% in October 2021 and the Energy Price Cap will increase even more from 1 April 2022. On 3 February 2022, the government announced a range of support around the April increase:

  • This year, all domestic electricity customers will receive an upfront discount on their bills worth £200. Energy suppliers will apply the discount on people’s bills from October. That discount will be automatically repaid from people’s bills in equal £40 instalments over the next five years.
  • Each household living in a Band A-D home will also get £150 Council Tax rebate to help with the cost of energy, in April – and this discount won’t need to be repaid.
  • Local authorities will get a discretionary fund of nearly £150m to help those lower income households who happen to live in higher Council Tax properties and households in bands A-D who are exempt from Council Tax.
  • Expansion of eligibility for the Warm Home Discount to help three million more households.
  • Other measures which the government says will also help are: increasing the National Living Wage to £9.50 an hour in April, a pay rise of over £1,000 for 2 million low paid workers, and providing an effective tax cut for those on Universal Credit - allowing almost 2 million households to keep an average of £1,000 per year.

Here’s some helpful advice from one of our partners, Tenants Save Money Limited, if you're finding it hard to pay your energy bills.

  • Contact your supplier as soon as possible. Most have hardship funds and support available for low income and fuel-poor households who are struggling with their bills. This includes the existing Warm Home Discount (which provides eligible households with a £140 discount), Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments.
  • The emergency measures agreed between the government and energy suppliers to support those most in need during Covid-19 also remain in place this winter (2020 to 2021). Energy suppliers won’t disconnect your gas or electric if you miss a payment right now. Ask for ‘emergency credit’ if you use a prepay meter and you can’t top up. Ofgem rules also mean suppliers must offer payment plans you can afford.
  • If you’re a vulnerable person, you can also ask your energy provider to place you on the Priority Services Register. This gives you things like advance notice for planned power cuts (important if you rely on your energy supply for medical reasons) and priority support in an emergency. To check whether you are eligible for support, visit Ofgem.

Find out more about payment plans, schemes, grants and benefits on the Ofgem website as well as detail from them around the Energy Price Cap

There’s also more about the gas supply issues and financial support on gov.uk - and extra information about the additional support announced recently.

What if your energy supplier goes out of business?

  • Ofgem, the regulator, says that wholesale gas price increases aren’t an issue of supply and that there’s capacity to more than meet demand.
  • If your energy supplier goes out of business, Ofgem will appoint a new supplier and your supply won’t be disrupted. 
  • The advice is to take a meter reading, don’t switch, wait for Ofgem to choose a new supplier (this way any credit you have will be moved across) and wait for the new supplier to contact you. (You can then switch to another supplier if you prefer.)

Help with other household bills and costs

Sovereign  has an arrangement with Pocket Power, a telephone triage service that can help you save money on your household bills. This looks at more than just gas and electric, including water, sewerage, broadband and mobile phones. 

If you’re struggling with your fuel bills, contact moneyanddigital@sovereign.org.uk or get in touch with your usual Sovereign contact (such as an income officer or tenancy support adviser if you’re working with one) to access the Pocket Power service and get other advice and support.
 
You may also be interested in our page about finding affordable broadband or more about our two money and digital grants: one to provide you with equipment to get online and one to help if you need a new white good (like a washing machine, fridge freezer or oven), but are struggling to afford to buy them.

Our managing your money page also gives links to other resources to help you manage your household outgoings and make savings.

Help with budgeting, debt advice and more

Our Money and Digital Service is here to help you with money matters, support to access digital equipment or if you find it hard to use the internet.
 
Budgeting training - We can offer support if you’re looking for ways to make your money go further.  Maybe you always find yourself short at the end of the month or struggle to make your money stretch to cover everything you need in a month. We can support you with this by giving you skills and tips all on how to make the most of your budget. Budgeting is a one to one training course delivered remotely through ‘We are Digital’.  It provides up to three sessions of 2.5 hours training, tailored your individual needs.
 
Debt advice - We know it can feel very overwhelming when you’re struggling with paying your bills at the same time as already having debt that you’re trying to pay back. We can support you with completely free and independent debt advice and help you to find a solution that is right for you. This service is designed to help you see a future in which you are free from debt and able to enjoy a less stressful life. You can access this directly through Payplan. Or if you prefer, email moneyanddigital@sovereign.org.uk and we can refer you into the advice service.

For more information 

Visit our cold weather tips page for information on our responsibilities for gritting and advice on how to keep warm in your home.
 
Our tips for looking after your home include what to do if your electric goes off, advice on getting to know your heating system (including bleeding a radiator and getting the best out of storage heaters and dealing with boiler problems) and hot water system (including stopcocks, avoiding frozen pipes - and what to do if they are frozen).