Government energy bill support this winter
As energy bills continue to rise as a result of increases in global wholesale gas prices, we know the significant impact this will have on our customers over the winter period. We want to reassure our customers that we’re doing our best to keep energy bills as low as possible, absorbing as much of these rising costs as we can, and helping customers to obtain additional support – including by continually calling on the Government to support households in the media, in meetings with Government and in Parliamentary Committees, activity which we’ve detailed in a previous blog post here.
All suppliers are absorbing significant costs and this has already driven around 30 out of business in the past year, but we want to repeat the reassurance we gave last December that we’re still here to help.
The Government has introduced a package of financial support to help households with energy bills including:
1. £150 Council Tax rebate for households in council tax bands A to D, from April this year;
2. £500m extension of the Household Support Fund to be used by local authorities to support vulnerable households;
3. £400 government grant for every British household called the Energy Bill Support Scheme.
Energy Bill Support Scheme
What do I need to do to get the Energy Bill Support Scheme?
Nothing – it will be applied to your account automatically. If anyone contacts you asking to sign up to or claim for the Energy Bill Support Scheme, it is a scam. Ignore it.
How does the Energy Bill Support Scheme work?
From October, customers will start to receive a £400 grant towards their energy bills, spread over six monthly payments. This will be administered by energy suppliers and will see a grant of £66 applied to energy bills in October and November, rising to £67 each month from December through to March 2023. You don’t need to pay this grant back.
It’s important to note that even with the Energy Bills Support Scheme helping out, most people will see their Direct Debit rise in October anyway. For a typical price-capped household, using 2,900kWh of electricity and 12,000kWh of gas per year, costs will rise from £164 per month to an estimated £304 per month. Even when you subtract the £67 Energy Bills Support Scheme discount from £304, that typical household’s monthly cost still rises from £164 to £237. In reality everyone’s circumstances are different but for the most part customers should expect to see their costs rise despite the Energy Bills Support Scheme discount.
Those who receive means tested benefits, Winter Fuel Payments, and/or disability benefits will receive further financial support which you can find more about here.
The Energy Bills Support Scheme works slightly differently depending on your payment method but everyone will end up getting the same amount of money. If you are a:
Fixed Direct Debit customer, we will apply the £66/£67 grant as credit to your So Energy account each month, typically in the first week of the month. This grant will then be used to set your monthly Direct Debit £66/£67 lower than it otherwise would be. For most of our price-capped customers on our So Flex tariff, you monthly Direct Debit is still expected to rise to rise overall in October – the grant will only reduce the amount by which your Direct Debit will rise.
Standard credit customer or Variable Direct Debit customer, we will apply the £66/£67 grant to your account to your So Energy account each month, typically in the first week of the month. This credit will then reduce the amount you owe each month by £66/£67.
Smart prepayment meter customer, we will apply the £66/£67 grant to your account to your So Energy account each month, typically in the first week of the month. This credit will then reduce the amount you need to top-up by £66/£67.
You can confirm that your monthly Energy Bill Support Scheme grant has been applied by looking at your monthly statement, starting at the statement for the October period. It will appear as ‘Energy Bill Support Scheme’ on the first page of your statement.
If your housing circumstances change during this 6-month period, for example if you leave or move home, you will still benefit from the appropriate portion of the total £400 discount.
This grant also applies to students and other tenants renting properties where energy costs are included in your rental charges. In these circumstances, landlords who resell energy to their tenants should pass the discounted payments on appropriately, in line with Ofgem rules to protect tenants. However, most households on our price-capped So Flex tariff, will see their monthly payments rise overall from October – the Energy Bill Support Scheme will only offset the extent to which energy costs rise.
Please be wary of any fraud attempts. At no point will you be asked for bank details to redeem the discount and customers should be wary of any scams that may ask for these details. The Energy Bill Support Scheme will be applied automatically, regardless of your energy supplier.
Getting more support
Further support is available from the government, provided you meet certain criteria.
You can check if you are entitled to any government benefits here: www.gov.uk/check-benefits-financial-support
The government is also offering cost of living support to households. Check if you could be eligible here: costoflivingsupport.campaign.gov.uk/.
Information about grants to help to heat your home can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/find-energy-grants-for-you-home-help-to-heat
If you’re having difficulty paying your bills, please contact us. Support is available for customers who have difficulty paying their bills. If you’re uncomfortable coming to us directly, there are charities that offer free independent advice and support and it’s not just limited to your energy bills – we are happy to work with them:
StepChange: visit www.stepchange.org
National Debtline: visit www.nationaldebtline.org or freephone 0808 808 4000
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