One of the ways you can keep well, particularly during the winter, is to keep your home warm (between 18 and 22 degrees celsius). When it comes to heating our homes and using energy for lighting and cooking most of us will be with one of the ‘big six’ suppliers in the UK:-
If you struggle to keep your home warm for whatever reason, there may be help out there for you. These six larger companies have millions of customers and many have their own Charitable Trusts, such as the British Gas Energy Trust to help people who may at times need support to pay their bills. Most suppliers are part of the Warm Home Discount Scheme or have their own schemes to help support people who are disabled or who have chronic illnesses.
Help with utility bills
Most of the major utility companies have charitable arms that provide money to help with utility bills, white goods, boiler repairs, and in the case of the British Gas Energy Trust, will help with funeral costs. You can find out more about these below:-
- Anglican Water Assistance Fund - Receives donations from Anglian Water and offers financial assistance to clear water and sewerage debt for customers of Anglian Water and Hartlepool Water.
- British Gas Energy Trust - An independent Charitable Trust receiving donations from British Gas, offering financial assistance to families and individuals in need, hardship or other distress, particularly those struggling to pay their energy bills.
- Charis Grants Ltd - Charis Grants exists to facilitate charitable and corporate giving by designing, developing and managing a range of services in support of vulnerable members of society. They offer a complete grants management service for charitable or corporate giving through Trust or Assistance Funds. At present these offer grant awards for utility debt and other essential household bills and costs.
- EDF Energy Trust - The EDF Energy Trust helps families and individuals living in fuel poverty or other distress. Who are struggling to pay their gas and/or electricity bill by awarding grants to clear those debts. The aim of the Trust is to give vulnerable individuals a fresh start and enable them to keep free of fuel debts going forward.
- npower Fuel Banks - There are npower Fuel Banks in Kingston on Thames, Durham, Gloucestershire, the Wirral, Birmingham, Sheffield, Hull, Hastings, Brent, Glossop, Glasgow and Cardiff. People who have been referred to a participating Trussel Trust or Durham Christian Partnership foodbank, and who have a prepayment meter, can receive a voucher for fuel that will help them to get their power back on within a few hours.
- npower Energy Fund - Receives donations from npower and offers financial assistance to current domestic customers of npower who are struggling to pay their energy bills.
- ScottishPower Hardship Fund - ScottishPower has a fund to help customers who are struggling to pay their ScottishPower debt due to low household income, for example, customers on Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Pension Credit, Employment and Support Allowance or Disability Living Allowance.
- Severn Trent Trust Fund - Severn Trent Trust Fund is an independent grant-making trust first set up in 1997. A registered charity, the Trust is helping people out of poverty and debt - thanks to donations by the UK Midlands-based water company, Severn Trent Water Limited. The policy and grant making is overseen by independent Trustees who ensure that the money goes where it is most needed.
- Southern Water - The Southern Water Charitable Trust Fund is a registered charity established to help people facing financial hardship. The Charitable Trust can consider making a grant towards water and/or wastewater charges for customers in financial hardship.
- South East Water's Helping Hand - Receives donations from South East Water and offers financial assistance to clear water and sewerage debt for customers of South East Water.
- South Staffs Water - If meeting the cost of your water bill is causing you hardship then help may be at hand through the South Staffs Water Charitable Trust. As a registered charity, the Trust runs entirely independently of South Staffs Water and assists with the cost of meeting the bill for the company's customers. Who are facing genuine difficulties or distress.
- Thames Water Customer Assistance Fund - The Thames Water Customer Assistance Fund helps customers who are experiencing financial hardship and are in debt with them.
- United Utilities - The Trust fund, which is not part of United Utilities and is managed by independent trustees, is there to help our customers with genuine financial problems. The aim of the fund is to help people and where possible get them back on track financially by providing a grant towards their debt.
- Veolia Water Trust - An independent charitable trust receiving donations from Veolia Water Central, Veolia Water South and Veolia Water Southeast. Offering financial assistance to families and individuals in need, hardship or other distress, particularly those struggling to meet or pay charges for their supply of domestic water services.
- Yorkshire Water Community Trust - The Yorkshire Water Community Trust was set up primarily to help those individuals and families in real need, and who are unable to pay their water charges to Yorkshire Water.
Priority Services Register
There is also a Priority Services Register for people who have chronic illnesses. This is a free service provided by suppliers and network operators to customers in need. Should you need it, the Ofgem website also features more advice about support and advice schemes that are available to you, although you will need to contact your energy supplier directly to find out how their schemes work.
Even if you are not with one of these ‘big six’ providers then you still may be able to get help from your supplier – below is a list of suppliers in the UK (this may not feature every single one, if you know of one not on this list please let us know). Each provider is for gas and electricity unless stated otherwise:
- Affect Energy
- Avro Energy
- Better Energy (gas only)
- Bristol Energy
- Bulb Energy
- Cardiff Energy (gas only)
- Co-operative Energy
- Daligas (gas only)
- Economy Energy
- Extra Energy
- First Utility
- Future Energy
- Good Energy
- Green Energy
- Green Star
- iSupply Energy
- Octopus Energy
- Our Power (Scotland only)
- Places for People
- Robin Hood Energy
- So Energy
- Spark Energy
- Tempus Energy
- Utility Warehouse
- Zog Energy