Grants to help you pay off your energy debts

If you’re in debt with your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help pay off those debts. If your supplier doesn’t offer grants, you might be able to get one from the British Gas Energy Trust:

https://citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-help-payingyourbills

Check if you are eligible for the Warm Home Discount Scheme:

https://gov.uk/the-warm-home-discountscheme

 

Agreeing a payment plan with your energy supplier

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills you should tell your supplier that you want to pay through a payment plan, which will cover what you owe plus an amount for your current use.

You’ll pay fixed amounts over a set period of time, so you can pay what you can afford. Your supplier has to take into account how much you can afford and how much energy you’ll use in the future.

 

Help from your local council

Your local council might be able to give you vouchers or a prepaid card to help pay for essentials like food or fuel. You could also get household appliances like a fridge. Contact your local council to check if you’re eligible.

 

Help to Claim Universal Credit

If you’re out of work or on a low income, you might be eligible for Universal Credit.

Our trained advisers can help you make your first claim. Speak to us over the phone or on webchat 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday:

https://citizensadvice.org.uk/help-to-claim

Freephone: 0800 144 8444

Benefits calculator

It’s worth checking that you’re getting all of the benefits that you’re entitled to. Use a benefits calculator to check if there’s anything else that you can get.

You should also check with your local council to see if you can get a council tax reduction or discount.

 

Make a budget

If you want to make a budget, here are 3 steps.

  1. Write down all your earnings after tax, any money from benefits or any other income you may receive
  2. Write down all your outgoings. This includes existing debts, regular payments and other expenses
  3. Use a budgeting tool to work out your budget:

https://citizensadvice.org.uk/budgeting-tool

Before you start, have your bank statements or banking app to hand.

You could also keep a spending diary to keep track of your spending ahead of completing a budget.

 

Check you’re being paid the right wage.

The minimum wage increased on 1 April 2022 so you should make sure that you’re being paid the right amount.

  • Aged 23 and over — £9.50
  • Aged 21 to 22 — £9.18
  • Aged 18 to 20 — £6.83
  • Under 18 — £4.81
  • An apprentice — £4.81

Help with school costs

If you’re on a low income or claim Universal Credit, you might be able to get free school meals for your children. You can apply for free school meals on https://gov.uk.

If you qualify, you might be able to get other help with school costs – and your child’s school might get extra money.

You might also be able to get help from your local education authority with some costs such as uniforms, school activities and school transport.

https://citizensadvice.org.uk/family/education/help-with-school-costs

 

Healthy Start vouchers and free vitamins

If you’re on a low income and you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4-years-old, you might be able to get free vitamins and Healthy Start vouchers for milk, fruit and vegetables and infant formula milk.

Ask your midwife or health visitor if you might be eligible. You could also call the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823 or check online:

https://healthystart.nhs.uk/how-to-apply

 

Apply for a charitable grant

You might be able to get extra money from a charity. Some of these charitable grants are open to everyone, others might be available to you based on your situation – for example, your health or your previous or current job.

You can check what help you can get from local and national charities on the Turn2us website. You’ll need to know your postcode.

If you’re over 55 and have a personal pension

You might be able to take some money from your pension savings to help pay for essential costs or to pay off your debts.

Taking money from your pension will mean you have less income when you retire. If you’re getting benefits, taking money from your pension could affect your claim.

You can get free guidance on your pension options from Pension Wise. They’ll explain the different options so you can decide which is best for you.

You should also get financial advice before taking any money from your pension savings – you’ll have to pay.

You can check how to find a financial adviser – they can tell you which option is best for you.

 

If you’re finding things difficult

Your mental health is as important as your physical health. You should talk to your GP if your money problems are affecting your mental health.

You can find other ways to get help with your mental health on the Mind website.

If you need to speak to someone right now you can call the Samaritans for free.

 

Samaritans

Helpline: 116 123 (Monday to Sunday at any time)

 

Shout

You can also text ‘SHOUT‘ to 85258 to start a conversation with a trained Shout 85258 volunteer. Texts are free, anonymous and confidential from anywhere in the UK.

 

If you think it’s an emergency

If you think your life or someone else’s is at risk, you should call 999 or go to A&E if you can.

You can also find a list of urgent mental health services on the Mind website.

Community Winter Support Hubs (Warmth Banks)

 

A network of warmth banks have been set-up across Cornwall as a place for people to help keep warm this winter as energy costs begin to bite. The banks, or hubs, a safe, warm place to go and some include hot food and drinks, activities such as arts and crafts, cooking and IT, access to information on money management and drop-in sessions on energy saving and benefits.

The hubs have been made possible by a partnership between voluntary sector organisations, NHS Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and Cornwall Council. An updated list of hubs can be found on the Volunteer Cornwall website at: https://bit.ly/3rIYSnL