Homes for Ukraine Scheme: Information for Torus customers considering offering a room in your home to a Ukrainian refugee – more.

 

Money advice

Support for energy bills and the cost of living

Added: 7 March 2022
Updated: 30 May 2022

 
Following Ofgem lifting the cap on default tariffs, some of you may be worrying about how you are going to pay your utility bills, and for those on pre-payment meters, how you’re going to keep them topped up.  

On April 1, millions of households faced a 54% energy bill hike to the equivalent of just under £2,000 a year for an average user, with a £700 on average increase.

We understand with this and other increasing costs that it is a very worrying time for some people and we want to reassure you that we are here to provide you with the information and support to help you manage your rent payments, as well as letting you know what other support is available and tips to help you rethink energy, to save money and only using what you actually need.

Energy prices explained:

The price cap is a limit on a unit of gas and electricity – it’s not a cap on your overall energy bills, which will still rise or fall in line with your energy use.

Under the new Ofgem cap, the average dual-fuel bill for a Direct Debit customer has gone up by £693 a year, from its current level of £1,277, affecting 22 million households.

If you use a prepayment meter, you may face a possible increase of £708 – from £1,309 to £2,017.   Or if you pay for your energy with cash or by cheque face, the average bill could go up to £2,101 for your gas and electricity.

  • From 1 April a typical customer paying by Direct Debit will be charged 28p a kilowatt-hour for electricity and 7p a kWh for gas. This is about double the unit prices being charged by the cheapest providers at the start of 2021.
  • For anyone with above-average energy use – for example, large families or older people in larger homes – their annual bill could be much higher than the headlines suggest.

Ofgem reviews the energy price cap every six months and the next price cap, in October, where the price could go up again. 

Support available (Government) 

Updated: 30 May 2022

On the 26 May 2022, the Government announced a new package of support worth over £15bn to help households with the rise in the cost of living.

This package is in addition to the over £22bn announced previously, with government support for the cost of living now totalling over £37bn this year.  This means that almost all the eight million most vulnerable households will get £1,200 of one-off support in total this year to help with the cost of living, with all domestic electricity customers receiving at least £400.

These payments will be made directly to eligible people across the UK, so claimants don’t need to take any action.
 

£650 one-off Cost of Living Payment for those on means tested benefits:

More than 8 million households on means tested benefits will receive a payment of £650 this year, made in two instalments. This includes all households receiving the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Pension Credit

The payment will be made in two lump sums, the first from July, the second in the autumn. 

Payments from HMRC for those on tax credits only will follow shortly after each to avoid duplicate payments. 

Claimants will need to be in receipt of one of these benefits, or have begun a claim which is later successful, as of 25 May 2022 to be eligible for the first of the two instalments. 

This payment will be tax-free, will not count towards the benefit cap, and will not have any impact on existing benefit awards.
 

£150 Disability Cost of Living Payment:

Around six million people across the UK who receive the following disability benefits will receive a one-off payment of £150: 

  • Disability Living Allowance (including Child Disability Living Allowance)
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Scottish Disability Benefits
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • War Pension Mobility Supplement

For the many disability benefit recipients who receive means tested benefits, this £150 will come on top of the £650 they will receive separately. As with the other Cost of Living Payment these payments will also be exempt from tax, will not count towards the benefit cap, and will not have any impact on existing benefit awards. 
 

Energy Bills Support Scheme doubled to a one-off £400: 

Households will get £400 of support with their energy bills through an expansion of the Energy Bills Support Scheme.
 
As well as doubling the £200 of support announced earlier this year, the full £400 payment will now be made as a grant, which will not be recovered through higher bills in future years.

Find out more about cost of living support on the gov.uk website.
 

£500m increase and extension of Household Support Fund:

To support people who need additional help, the Government is providing an extra £500 million of local support, via the Household Support Fund, which will be extended from October 2022 to March 2023. 

Contact your local authority directly or keep updated on their website:

Liverpool devolved councils (Knowsley, Sefton, Wirral, Liverpool) – to find your council visit: www.gov.uk/find-local-council
 

Council Tax rebate:

80% of households are currently receiving (should have received) the emergency £150 Council Tax rebate from April, if they are in bands A-D.

Warrington residents:
If you pay your Council Tax by Direct Debit, you should have received your £150 energy rebate in April 2022.  If you do not pay your Council Tax by Direct Debit, you will need to complete a form on the council’s website and should receive your payment from May 2022.
www.warrington.gov.uk/energy-bill
 

St Helens residents:
If you pay your Council Tax by Direct Debit, you should have received your £150 energy rebate by 30 April 2022.  If you do not pay your Council Tax by Direct Debit, you will need to complete a form on the council’s website and should receive your payment from 30 April 2022.
www.sthelens.gov.uk/article/4593/Council-Tax-energy-rebate
 

Liverpool residents:
If you pay your Council Tax by Direct Debit, you should receive your £150 energy rebate from 1 May 2022.  If you do not pay your Council Tax by Direct Debit, Liverpool City Council will write to you from May 2022 inviting you to apply online for your £150 energy rebate.
https://liverpool.gov.uk/council-tax/council-tax-energy-rebate/
 

For information on discretionary payments, visit your Local Authority website, to find your council visit: www.gov.uk/find-local-council
 

Support for those impacted by the cost of living increases from Money and Pensions Service (MaPs)

MaPs has launched new guidance to help people manage changes to the cost of living. The new guidance on its MoneyHelper website helps people manage their money in uncertain times, it contains information info people who:

Free debt advice service:
For people who are already missing payments on their bills or credit commitments, then free debt advice services are available via MaPS’ advice locator tool.

Help to prioritise bills:
MoneyHelper's free Bill and Payment Prioritiser tool can help you know what payments to deal with first and how to take action to keep up with payments.

 

More ways to get help with energy bills:

Getting the best deal on your energy bills
Most of the time switching to a new energy tariff is a quick and easy way to reduce your bills, but not at the moment.  If you are worried about your bills, contact the Energy Team at Torus Foundation for specialist advice.   Call 0300 123 5809 or email info@torusfoundation.org.uk.
 

Help from energy supplier

Energy supplier grant - up to £750:
Energy suppliers are offering cash grants to those hardest hits by bills rises.  For instance, British Gas is giving out up to £750 through its new hardship fund.

But the amount can vary according to your supplier and your circumstances.

It's not just Universal Credit claimants who can get the help, but if you're on the benefit and have a low income you could qualify. Ask your supplier what's on offer and how to apply, or check here:

Have you checked if your supplier has a trust fund?
The majority of utility companies offer more than just a payment plan. Suppliers can help support people who are struggling to pay bills with funding and may even fund other items such as white goods. 

If you can’t pay your bills, don’t panic, don’t ignore it and don’t be embarrassed. Check your supplier today:

Grant for debt arrears - up to £1,500:
You can apply for a grant to pay off arrears if you've fallen behind from the British Gas Energy Trust.

Anyone can apply, it's not just for British Gas customers.  If you're claiming the benefit and are struggling you could be eligible.  
You need to have less than £1,000 in savings and are facing fuel poverty.  You also need to have sought help from a money advice agency, like Citizens Advice.  

The amount you can get will depend on your need and grants of over £1,500 are for exceptional circumstances.
 

Support from Ofgem

Ofgem, the regulatory authority for gas and electric have published the following general advice for those who may struggle to pay their household energy bills.
 

Warm Home Discount Scheme 

If you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or are on a low income, you could be eligible for up to £140 off your electricity bill for winter under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

The Warm Home Discount scheme opens each October.  The money is not paid to you - it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between October and March.  You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity. Contact your supplier to find out.

To find out more information including how to apply, visit: www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme;.  You can also call the WHD Helpline 0800 731 0214.
 

Cold weather payment - up to £75 

When temperatures plummet those in low income households can get a £25 payment.  These cold weather payments have already been made in several locations where residents have experienced below zero weather.  The payment is made automatically, including to those on Universal Credit, for each seven day period of low temps.  In the coldest areas three £25 payments have been made so far this winter, adding up to £75 in total.  Find out more including how to apply: www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment/eligibility 
 

Liverpool City Council Healthy Homes 

For customers living in Liverpool, the Liverpool City Council Healthy Homes team provide free help and advice to local people who are struggling to pay their energy bills and heat their homes. You can speak to a member of their team or arrange a free energy assessment by calling 0800 012 1754 or emailing healthyhomesprogramme@liverpool.gov.uk.  To find out more, please click here to visit Liverpool City Council’s website

Other Local Authority Support:
Visit your local council website to find out more about support is available in your area:

Let us help - support from Torus

If you are experiencing financial pressures and are struggling to pay your rent, please get in touch as soon as possible, as it's better to let us know now, so we can do our best to help.

There's cash help for anyone struggling with rent that's available from your local council through the discretionary housing payment.  Visit your Local Authority website:

More support available from Torus… 

We also have other dedicated teams who can help you to improve your financial situation.

Torus Foundation:
As costs to fuel and energy rise, it’s more important than ever that Torus communities have access to support.

If you or you know any other Torus residents who could benefit from support, please get in touch with the Torus Foundation Financial Inclusion Team who will directly help or signpost to organisations who can provide support.  There are many ways Torus Foundation can help you. Perhaps you’re looking for a job with better pay to manage your bills, become more confident with technology as more services move online, want to make the most of local food pantries, or need support and guidance towards preparing for energy costs.   

They can also help you assess what grants you may be eligible for and support you with your application. 

Torus Foundation can also help with: 

  • Finding a job, interview clothes, PPE, travel for the first month. They have exclusive local jobs and expert support how to be successful getting the career you want. 
  • Help with using computers to job search and complete training online.
  • Do you need support with your health and wellbeing? They have a mental health specialist to support you and much more!


Torus Tenancy Sustainment Team:
The Tenancy Sustainment Team will assist Torus tenants who are at risk of failing their tenancy. They will work with the tenant(s) to understand their needs and agree actions to turn the tenancy around. A full needs assessment is completed to establish any support required working with our external partners. As part of the actions, they can also offer support with food vouchers, grant applications and much more.  Each area has their own team, email yours directly on:

Or call 0800 678 1894 and ask to speak to the Duty Tenancy Sustainment Officer for your area. 

Find out more about maximising your income and getting support with money here.

 

Other useful links:

If you're worried about falling behind on bills. there are plenty of organisations where you can get advice for free, including:

Simple Energy Advice 

Affordable Home Obligation – gov.uk: Help from your energy supplier: The Affordable Warmth Obligation 

Citizens Advice - grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills 

Money Saving Expert - Martin Lewis' site offers free and impartial advice to help you save money on credit cards, loans, energy and more.

Which? - Expert guides to help you make your money stretch further. Learn how to budget efficiently, get better deals, and find smart ways to make and save money.

Money Helper (was The Money Advice Service) - Loads of helpful tips and advice including budget planners and saving money.


Energy and Money Saving Top Tips:

We have pulled together some ‘Top Tips’ and some simple things you can do to shave save a few pounds here and there, and make the most of your money:

Shopping & food:

  • Yellow sticker time – be supermarket savvy and work out when is your supermarket's "sticker time" and it reduces prices, it can vary between shops, but it’s usually between 6.30pm and 7pm or an hour before closing.
  • Find brand duplicates – hunt for cheaper copies of the brands you love, e.g. such as Aldi versions of popular brand items, they are usually half the price.
  • Check the unit price - look for the unit price (price per 100ml / price per kilo) when you shop so you can use them to check what really is a good deal and what isn't.
  • Reduce your bills by making a meal plan and sticking to a budget – only buy what you need and you will eat.
  • Buy in bulk – if you can, buy items you use all the time, such as washing power, could save you money.
  • Avoid items at eyeline - look down to the bottom shelves for cheaper goodies.
  • Avoid display offers - the products on the end of the aisles are usually set up to display products on offer but they're not always, they can be just full-price stock that the supermarket want us to think are on sale, so make sure you check.
  • Write a list and make a budget – stick to a list of items you need, not want, and creating a budget you adhere to, you can save a lot of money, if it isn’t on your list, don’t put it in the trolley.
  • Batch Cooking – if you can.  If you make more meals than you need in one sitting, then you will not only save money on the cost of cooking with different ingredients, but also on the cost of keeping the oven on.
  • Understand the difference between “best before” and “use by” – don’t waste your food or throw it away when it is fine to eat.
  • Freezing – learn what food you can freeze, things like chocolate, chopped vegetables, cheese and even whole birthday cakes!”
  • Don’t impulse buy - think carefully before making a purchase - especially if it’s expensive, try and sleep on it, it may seem less appealing in the morning.
  • Keep the freezer full – if you can.  It costs to freeze empty space, fill the empty spaces with scrunched up newspaper, well-sealed bags of water or reusable plastic containers, such as milk bottles, filled with water.


Compare, Switch and Save:

  • Use online tools such as Uswitch to get the best deals on your broadband and your mobile phone.
  • Switch bank accounts - some banks offer incentives for you to switch accounts and save with them instead.
  • Compare supermarket prices - compare prices on your shop with MySupermarket, it will compare your online shopping basket to find the cheapest place to buy and it save you 30 per cent — or more than £1,500 a year.


Energy Saving Tips – saving energy and reducing bills

  • Use energy saving / LED light bulbs - replacing just one old light bulb with an energy saving one can cut lighting costs by up to £50 over the lifetime of the bulb. 
  • Turn down your thermostat - turning it down by 1 degree could cut your heating bills by up to 10 per cent and save you around £85 a year.  Turn off thermostat in unused room.
  • Don’t leave appliances on ‘Stand By’ - UK households spend an average of £35 a year leaving appliances on standby, so make sure to switch yours off at the plug. 
  • Use an energy monitor and fit a smart metre - electricity monitors show you in real time how much energy you are using, which can help you make decisions about your energy use and become more efficient. 
  • Radiators - switch off radiators in the rooms you’re not using regularly and keep internal doors shut and make sure your radiators aren’t blocked by curtains or furniture.
  • Windows and Doors – close doors, fit a door curtain. Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows and check for draughts around windows and doors.
  • Showers – replace a soak in the tub with a shower once a week? You’ll be surprised how much energy you could save this way.
  • Washing machines - check your washing machine’s settings to see if there’s a ‘half load’ option for small amounts of clothes or if possible, fill up the washing machine, one full load uses less energy than two half loads.
  • Lights - turn lights off when you leave a room. A family could save between £50 and £90 a year just by remembering to flick a switch.  Remember to turn off your outside lights.
  • Kettle - only boil as much water as you need (but remember to cover the elements if you’re using an electric kettle).
  • Bedtime – wear pyjamas, socks, increase the tog rating on duvets or add blankets.
     

 

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