Ofgem's price cap for July is set to be £2,074 which means typical yearly energy bills will be £426 cheaper from then depending on your usage.

It may sound like good news that energy bills are to drop but the price cap is still monumentally higher than what it was before the energy crisis.

In July 2021, Ofgem’s price cap was almost 50% lower and sat at £1,042.

Ofgem's chief executive Jonathan Brearley admitted this morning that many will still experience a "tough" winter this year as all Government support will stop from July.

So what should you do if you are struggling to pay your energy bills? In this guide we walk you step-by-step through the support that's out there.

Struggling to pay your direct debit? - talk to your supplier

If you don't think you can cover your next energy bill, or the cost of your energy bills are becoming unmanageable then you need to tell your supplier as soon as you can.

It may sound like a very simple thing to do, and that is because it is.

If your supplier knows your situation then it can put things in place to help you - under Ofgem's rules, all suppliers have to do this.

If you're struggling your supplier can offer you a range of options which could help, which includes:

  • A full payment plan review
  • Affordable debt repayment plans
  • Payment breaks (though this won't be right for everyone)
  • Payment reductions
  • More time to pay
  • Access to hardship funds

It is important to note that the repayment plan which is offered must be based on your ability to pay.

The help you can get is also decided on a case-by-case basis - so not everyone will get the same.

If you are, or believe yourself to be a vulnerable customer you should sign yourself up for the Priority Services Register which is a service which offers extra support to "vulnerable" customers.

To be eligible for this support you will need to have reached the state pension age, have a disability or long-term medical condition, or be recovering from a medical condition.

However, there can be other ways to be eligible for the Priority Services Register and you can ask your supplier about this.

Struggling to pay your prepayment meter? - talk to your supplier

If you are on a prepayment energy meter and you are struggling to top up then you should approach your supplier for help.

All energy suppliers offer emergency credit which you can use to keep yourself connected to power.

Usually, the emergency credit is around £5 but some suppliers have upped their in response to the energy crisis.

To get the help, you usually need to have very little money left on your meter - its usually less than 50p for electricity or less than £2 for gas.

With emergency credit you do have to pay it back when you next top up.

Suppliers also offer a service called "Friendly Credit" which means you won't be cut off when your credit rusn out at certain times of the week.

The times can vary between suppliers but usually, you won't be cut off between 6pm and 9pm Monday to Saturday and all day on Sunday and bank holidays.

Again, you need to pay anything you've used during this time back when you next have to top up.

Another support offer by suppliers is "Additional support credit" - this is made available if you can't afford to top us your meter and you are facing self-disconnection through being unable to top up.

In general, additional support credit is usually for those in vulnerable situations, such as those of state pension age, or with a disability or long-term medical condition.

It is also down to the supplier to assess who is eligible, what you can get, and how it works.

Energy supplier Hardship schemes

After speaking to your supplier, you may be offered or told to apply for support through your energy firm’s Hardship scheme.

Not all providers have them, but the majority of the UK’s biggest energy firms such as British Gas, EDF, Octopus Energy, E.ON, and Ovo offer help through cash grants and payment plans to those struggling to pay their bills.

The UK’s biggest energy provider British Gas currently offers help to both customers and non-customers by offering grants of up to £1,500 to help with energy debt through its British Gas Support Fund and the Individuals and Families Fund.

EDF, Octopus Energy, Scottish Power and E.ON also offer cash grants to those facing large energy debts as well as various schemes, including allowing customers to pay in smaller and “more manageable” amounts, debt repayment holidays, and free energy-saving products for their home.

Ovo Energy does not offer a grant but does offer similar support services.

If your supplier isn’t listed it’s a good idea to contact them directly to see what extra support they can give you.

Government schemes

Cost of Living payments

The Government will be giving another round of cost of living payments this year which totals £900.

The first payment worth £301 has already been given but another two are set to come later this year and early next.

The second payment worth £299 will be given in the Autumn - with the third worth £300 in the spring of 2024.

The money is given to those claiming means tested benefits - you can find out all about the cost of living payments here.

There will also be payments worth £150 for people claiming disability benefits and £300 for pensioners.

Warm Home Discount

The Warm Home Discount is a one-off payment of £150 to take off your electricity bill or be added to your prepayment meter over the winter months.

You get the payment automatically if your electricity supplier is part of the Warm Home Discount scheme and you claim a “qualifying benefit” and have high energy costs, or you or your partner receive the Guarantee Credit portion of Pension Credit.

In deciding, the Government will look at your circumstances on the “qualifying dates” - these dates have not yet been announced yet.

If you think you could be eligible, you should keep a look out for when applications open.

Winter Fuel Payment

The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual one-off £300 tax-free payment for households that include someone born on or before 25 September 1956.

Last year it was paid alongside the £300 Pensioner Cost of Living payment which meant eligible claimants could have received up to £600 to help with energy bills over the winter.

This payment is happening again this year.

The amount you get is dependent on your specific circumstances such as if you live alone or with someone or claim certain benefits, and what you can get can be found on the Government's website here.

There are certain circumstances where an individual above State Pension age does not qualify for Winter Fuel Payments.

You can find out everything about the new Winter Fuel Payment here.

Cold Weather Payments

Cold Weather Payments, worth £25, are paid by the DWP when an area of the UK experiences or is forecast to experience temperatures of under zero degrees for seven consecutive days.

The scheme runs from November 1 to March 31 in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and to be eligible you must claim the following benefits:

  • Pension credit
  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • Income-related employment and support allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit
  • Support for mortgage interest (SMI)

Those receiving income support or income-based jobseeker’s allowance can get cold weather payments if they have a disability or pensioner premium, a child who is disabled, a child tax credit that includes a disability element, or a child under five living with them.

Scotland has got rid of the cold weather payment and replaced it with a new winter heating payment, and unlike the cold weather payment, the Scottish payment does not depend on how cold the temperature gets.

It’s a yearly payment of £50 that’s paid automatically to those who are eligible.

Winter Heating Assistance and the Winter fuel support scheme

The Child Winter Heating Assistance is a £214.10 annual payment per disabled child and young person under 19 living in Scotland, and the Winter Fuel Scheme is a £200 annual payment for Welsh households in receipt of certain benefits.

The Household Support Fund

This fund was launched in 2021 to provide help for "vulnerable" households who were struggling with the rising cost of living.

It was renewed again this year and will be running until April 2024.

Money has been given to each local council from the central Government to be used on a discretionary basis, meaning the councils decide how they spend the money and to who they will give it to.

Many councils help includes vouchers or cash to help with energy costs - you will need to check what your local council is offering to be sure.


Finally, there are several charities that can offer you support and guidance if you are struggling to pay for your energy, or if you are in energy debt.

Stepchange, National Debtline, and Money Advice Service have all been listed by the energy regulator Ofgem as options you can turn to for debt support and advice.

2023-05-25T08:34:09Z dg43tfdfdgfd