HOUSEHOLDS can get up to £49 in free fuel vouchers to help pay for their energy bills.
A little-known scheme is offering help to anyone with a prepayment meter who is struggling to top up.
Households can apply for a little-known scheme to get help with their energy bills
More than four million households are on prepayment meters.
This means they pay in advance for the energy they use, rather than being billed later on.
With pay-as-you-go, you top up gas and electric using a key, card or app.
Those on prepayment meters are often among the lowest income households.
Anyone on a prepayment meter who is struggling to top up could get a one-off voucher to help.
The Fuel Bank Foundation provides emergency fuel vouchers to households with a prepayment meter that are at risk of or have already run out of credit.
It is offered through a range of organisations, like food banks and Citizens Advice.
The vouchers are worth £49 in the winter and £30 in the summer months.
So if you apply now, you’re likely to get a voucher worth £30.
The foundation says the vouchers typically provides around four to five days of energy.
You won’t have to pay back the money.
If you get a fuel voucher, don’t forget that when you top up, come of the credit will go towards paying off any debt, for example emergency credit.
If you haven’t topped up for a period of time, you may also owe standing charges, a daily flat fee for energy use that is separate to your usage.
The best place to start when looking for help is your local council – you can find yours via gov.uk by searching your postcode.
If you’re still not sure if you can get a voucher, you can get help from organisations such as Citizens Advice.
Vouchers are issued in the form of a code to a mobile phone.
But if you don’t have a mobile phone, it can be sent via an email or through the post.
The code can then be taken to the outlet where you normally top up your prepayment meter – usually a local shop or the Post Office.
It can only be used to top up a gas or electricity meter and it can’t be used to buy anything else.
The Fuel Bank Foundation has also introduced a repeat fuel voucher scheme, in which households who had previously applied for and received an emergency fuel voucher were automatically issued another without having to reapply.
More than 48,000 repeat fuel vouchers have been sent out to eligible households so far.
What other energy bill help is available?
Energy suppliers also offer support for those who are struggling to pay their bills.
Those on Universal Credit and older legacy benefits are also entitled to cost of living payments worth up to £1,350.
There are plenty of energy grants and schemes open to help you out if you’re struggling.
Ask your supplier what’s on offer and how to apply, or check here:
- British Gas Energy Trust
- Bulb energy fund
- EDF’s energy customer support fund
- E.on’s energy fund
- Npower’s energy fund
- Ovo’s debt and energy assistance
- Scottish Power’s hardship fund
There’s a one-off fuel voucher from your energy supplier if you’re on a prepayment meter.
Councils are also dishing out hundreds of pounds to hard-up families through the Household Support Fund.
If you’re in debt there are plenty of services you can take advantage of and they offer free and friendly advice on how to manage debt.
Most of them can offer you free guidance and help in person, over the telephone or online.
- Money Advice Service – 0800 138 7777
- Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060
- StepChange – 0800 138 1111
- National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
They can also help you take the next steps if you need a debt management plan (DMP) to tackle your debt or an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA).
These are agreements for managing multiple debts.