Getting help if you can't afford your energy bills

Your energy supplier can help if you are having difficulties with your gas and electric bills. You can get other grants and benefits too.  Your options will depend on your situation

Help with high energy bills

If you are struggling to pay for energy or think you may get into difficulty, contact your supplier. We know the 1 April Energy Price Cap rise caused by global energy factors will be extremely worrying for many people. We are working round the clock to make sure consumers pay no more than is necessary and are supported by suppliers in any way possible.

Our rules mean suppliers must offer payment plans you can afford and you can ask for ‘emergency credit’ if you use a prepay meter and can’t top up. Most have also signed up to fresh commitments drawn up with Ofgem and the industry trade body Energy UK to support you this winter.

The government has also announced a package of support to help households with rising energy costs.

Charis has a grants and benefits eligibility checker and can support you through application processes.

  1. Agree a payment plan

    Contact your supplier as soon as you can if you are worried about paying your energy bills or are in debt to your supplier.

    Suppliers must work with you to agree on a payment plan you can afford under Ofgem rules. This includes reviewing a plan you have agreed before.

    You can ask for:

    • a review of your payments and debt repayments
    • payment breaks or reductions 
    • more time to pay
    • access to hardship funds
    • advice on how to use less energy
    • Priority Service registration – a free support service if you are in a .

    If you can’t agree on a way to pay, get help from Citizens Advice or Advice Direct Scotland. Someone at their Extra Help Unit could take on your case if you are in a

    Citizens Advice

    • Call on 0808 223 1133 or use their online webchat.
    • For textphone, dial 18001 followed by the helpline number.

    Advice Direct Scotland

  2. Check schemes, grants and benefits

    From suppliers

    Many energy companies offer schemes or grants to help with home heating and energy costs. For example, by making your home more energy-efficient or offering free boiler checks and upgrades. You don’t have to be a customer to join some of these schemes.  

    Citizens Advice lists grants some larger suppliers offer

    Talk to your supplier about grants and schemes they run too. 

    From the government

    You might qualify for the:

    • Winter Fuel Payment – a £100 to £300 fuel payment for people born on or before 26 September 1955. 
    • Cold Weather Payment – a £25 payment for every 7 days of very cold weather between November and March.
    • Warm Home Discount – a £140 discount for some people getting Pension Credit or some people in low-income households.
    • Household Support Fund - a funding package to help vulnerable households this winter. Contact your local council for advice and help on accessing the fund.

    If you live in Scotland or Wales;

    The government’s Fuel Direct Scheme can also help you repay a debt from benefit payments. Contact Jobcentre Plus (or your pension centre if you’re on Pension Credit) to apply.

    The government has also set out a package of support to help households with rising energy costs in 2022/23.

    From charities

    Charis has information on grants some charities offer and how to apply.  

    Turn2us has a benefits calculator and grants search tool to help you find out what support you can get alongside adviser locator tools. They also have information on benefits and information on help with paying energy and water bills.

  3. Get debt advice

    You can find advice on managing debt problems and budgeting through the:

    Start by working out which debts you need to deal with first. 

    Priority debts are ones that can cause serious problems if you can’t do anything about them. They include things like your energy bills, rent or mortgage and council tax. You can learn more about working out priority and other debts on the Citizens Advice website. Their budgeting tool can also help you manage your finances.

    Breathing Space scheme

    Breathing Space (sometimes called the 'Debt Respite Scheme') is a free government scheme that could give you up to 60 days' space from creditors to focus on getting debt advice and setting up a debt solution.

    If you apply and are eligible, all creditors are informed and must stop any collection or enforcement activity. You'll still need to keep making your regular payments if you can afford to.

    StepChange can help with applications

  4. Other tips

    Change the payment method for your bills if you can. Direct Debit is usually cheaper.

    Check if you can cut costs by switching from your current energy tariff or supplier.

    Use the Simple Energy Advice calculator to see how you can improve your energy efficiency, including the Green Deal. You can also learn about schemes run by your local council. Energy efficiency improvements cover things like home heating, free boiler replacement and roof insulation.

    Energy Saving Trust, Citizens Advice and National Energy Action also have helpful advice for ways to save energy, reduce consumption and lower your energy bills available on their websites. 

    You can also call Simple Energy Advice if you’re in England or Wales, or Home Energy Scotland if you’re in Scotland.

    • Simple Energy Advice: 0800 444 202
    • Home Energy Scotland: 0808 808 2282

Further help

Contact Citizens Advice if you aren’t sure about your options and need more support. If you are vulnerable someone at their Extra Help Unit could take on your case. 

  • Call 0808 223 1133 or use their online webchat.
  • For textphone, dial 18001 followed by the helpline number.

In Scotland, Advice Direct Scotland can help:

In Wales, for debt and money advice you can also contact Advicelink Cymru.