The government response to the unprecendented energy price rises remains inadequate, but what are two of the schemes that have been announced?
Who is this for?
Anyone who lives in a Council Tax Band A to D. It does not matter what your income is.
How will I get it?
If you pay direct debit, then the Council will pay the £150 straight into your bank account.
If you do not have a direct debit set-up, then the Council should invite you to apply. In many cases this will be via an online form on their website but there should also be provision for anyone who does not have internet access. Check the website for your own Local Council. Do not give your bank details to anyone else as we have heard of scams around this.
What if I don't pay any Council Tax?
You should still qualify if you live in a Band A to D property. You will fall into the category of not having a direct debit set-up so will need to apply for the £150.
Will the £150 be taken off my Council Tax bill?
No, although the Council Tax system is being used to adminster these payments, the payment is being made to help with energy bills so it is not directly connected to your Council Tax bill.
When will I get the £150?
This will vary between local Councils. For those people who pay by monthly direct debit, the payments should be more straightforward and could be made any time from late April onwards. For residents without a direct debit, it may take longer.
Do I have to pay the money back?
No, this is a one-off grant. It is different to the other system that has been announced by the government (see below).
I'm in a Band E to G for my Council Tax, can I get any help?
You will not get help automatically but if you are on a low income then you may be able to apply to your local Council's discretionary fund. In many cases the details of this are still to be confirmed but you will need to check on your Council website.
What is this scheme?
This scheme will automatically credit £200 to electricity bills in October 2022. This will however have to be paid back and a levy will be applied to future bills at a rate of £40 every year for 5 years, starting in April 2023.
Who will receive the £200?
All households who have an electricity connection will receive the £200.
How will it be paid?
The details are still to be confirmed but it will not be paid into your bank account. If you have a credit meter and pay direct debit or pay bills by cash or cheque then it is likely that the money will be credited to your bill. If you are on a prepayment meter then it may either be automatically credited to your meter (if you have a smart meter) or sent to you as a voucher to take to your pay point.
I don't want it, can I opt out?
No, unfortunately it is not an optional scheme.
What happens if my living circumstances have changed by April 2023?
Again, the exact details of the scheme are still to be confirmed but just bear in mind that the £200 is attached to an electricity meter point at a specific property rather than a named person. If you have moved house, you will pay the levy at the new house. It is also likely that if you have moved in with someone, you will just pay one levy between you at the new address. If you have moved into your first property, you will still pay the levy even if you didn't receive the £200.
These two schemes will only cover £350 which covers just half of the recent energy price rises. Furthermore, we expect prices to go up again in October so there is a huge shortfall in government support. The other two support schemes are:
Warm Home Discount - this will give £150 to eligible households in winter 2022/23. The scheme is changing so you no longer have to apply for it and payments will be made automatically. More people will qualify but there is a risk that some people, who have received it previously, will now miss out.
Household Support Fund - this is the scheme that ran over winter 2021/22 and provided food vouchers, help with fuel costs etc. More money has been provided to local authorities to run this again but many details are still to be confirmed. You need to check with your local Council.