10 ways to get free cash in the cold weather to help with energy bills – and it could be worth thousands of pounds | The Sun

TEMPERATURES are set to drop again this week, with snow forecast for parts of the country.

This means people will be turning their heating on to keep warm.

It's important that Brits, especially those who are more vulnerable, do their best to keep warm even though everyone's worrying about their energy bills.

Energy bills were initially set to be frozen at £2,500 for the typical household for two years, but the Energy Price Guarantee will now increase to £3,000 from April 2023.

In November, further cost of living payments and benefits increases were also announced for this year.

But what help is available right now for hard-up Brits who are worried about the cold snap?


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Sometimes it only takes tweaking your thermostat, to slash hundreds of pounds off your bills.

But if you're in need of extra help here are ways to get cash to help with costs and keep your bills down.

Cold weather payments – £25 a week

As a result of temperatures hitting below zero, thousands of struggling households will be offered free £25 towards energy bills.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) hands out these payments during the winter when chilly weather triggers the payments.

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Cold weather payments are made in locations where residents experience continuous below-zero weather.

Those receiving certain benefits, have a disability or care for a child are eligible.

Last year, some areas which experienced extended periods of freezing temperatures received multiple payouts, adding up to as much as £75.

For more information on the scheme and the full list of postcodes being offered the cash here.

Emergency credit – worth £10

Energy companies usually offer emergency credit, though you will have to pay this back.

British Gas has doubled the amount customers can get in an emergency due to the cost of living crisis.

The supplier said households with a top-up key or card will now be able to go £10 into debt before they're cut off.

Smart meter customers will still have a £5 limit, but the company is looking to roll the increase out to these households too.

How much you get and how it's applied will depend on who your supplier is.

It might be added to your meter when you fall below a certain amount or you might have to ask for it.

You might get extra if you are vulnerable, for example, if you have a health condition or are over state pension age.

You'll have to repay the cash next time you top up, but you can speak to your supplier about how much you'll pay back and over what time.

Cash for paying rent – up to £965

There's cash help for anyone struggling from your local council through the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP).

Anyone claiming Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit could be eligible if they are struggling with rent costs.

Each local authority dishes out the cash to those in need on a case-by-case basis and the amounts available can vary.

The Sun found that the average DHP was £965, based on freedom of information requests sent to 30 of the biggest councils.

The difference in the maximum amount given out ranged from £32,000 in Brent to £145 in Wakefield, based on the 17 councils that responded.

We've rounded up everything you need to know about who can get the cash and how to claim.

Pensioner cost of living payment – worth £300

Between November and March 2023, a £300 one-off "Pensioner Cost of Living Payment" started being paid out to eight million households.

It is being given to those who already get the winter fuel payment – which is worth between £100 and £300 for those over state pension age.

To qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment and Pensioner Cost of Living Payment, the following must apply:

  • You were born on or before 25 September 1956
  • You lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 19 to 25 September 2022 – this is called the "qualifying week".

Household support fund – up to £500

Local councils are giving out cash to help households struggling with bills and other essential costs.

How much you can get depends on where you live.

To qualify you'll usually need to be a recipient of council tax support.

You can search for yours using the search tool on gov.uk – just enter your postcode.

Local councils also offer welfare assistance schemes all year round that can help you with bills.

Energy grants – up to £1,500

There are plenty of energy grants and schemes open to help you out if you're struggling.

British Gas has confirmed it'll pay its most vulnerable customers grants worth £750 to help with sky-high bills.

And the British Gas Energy Trust pays hard-up households up to £1,500 – and it doesn't matter if they're not a British Gas customer.

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
  • Octopus Energy Octo Assist fund
  • Ovo's debt and energy assistance
  • Scottish Power's hardship fund

There's also a one-off fuel voucher from your energy supplier if you're on a prepayment metre.

We've already listed the detailed eligibility criteria for each scheme.

Free £150

Shell Energy will be giving thousands of customers an extra £150 to help them this winter.

The energy giant will be boosting the £150 warm home discount payment to £300 for all 157,000 customers who get the help.

You'll get the top-up if you received certain benefits and joined Shell Energy on or before August 21 last year.

The warm home discount is available to those on the lowest incomes to help with rising costs.

You'll need to be a recipient of one or more of the following benefits to qualify for the automatic £150 discount:

  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • Income-related employment and support allowance
  • Housing benefit
  • Universal Credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Working tax credits
  • Pension credit guaranteed
  • Pension credit savings credit

Fuel vouchers – worth £50

If you're on a prepayment meter you might be able to get a one-off voucher to top up.

The fuel voucher scheme comes via the Fuel Bank Foundation charity, and it's offered through a range of organisations, like food banks and Citizens Advice.

The best place to start to find somewhere which can offer you a fuel voucher is by asking your local council – you can find yours via gov.uk by searching your postcode.

The voucher should help you cover around two weeks' worth of electricity use.

Some energy companies may also issue their own vouchers, so ask your supplier directly.

Energy bill discount – worth £400

Millions of households started receiving a £400 energy bill discount from October 1.

Households will have already received a £66 energy bill discount in October, November and £67 in December.

There will also be a payment worth £67 in January, February and March.

We've listed how the leading energy suppliers plan to pay households.

British Gas, EDF Energy, Ovo Energy and Scottish Power plan to send the cash directly into customer bank accounts.

The way you'll be paid will depend on how you pay for your energy.

If you're on a credit meter or smart prepayment meter the discount will come off your bills or be credited to your account automatically.

Those on traditional prepayment meters will receive the discount through a voucher.

Check with your supplier to confirm how you'll receive the cash.

Warm Home Discount – worth £150

Millions of households are in line to get a £150 discount off their energy bills between December and March 2023.

You'll be eligible for the automatic discount if you received any of the following benefits up to August 21 last year:

  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • Income-related employment and support allowance
  • Housing benefit
  • Universal Credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Working tax credits
  • Pension credit guaranteed
  • Pension credit savings credit

The Department for Work and Pensions, which is overseeing the scheme, will have sent you a letter in October to confirm if you'll get the payment later on in the year.

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Payments for the £150 Warm Home Discount scheme began likely in December.

It's up to individual energy companies to decide when they will give their customers the discount.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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