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As we head into the winter period, energy prices are projected to continue rising, with suppliers collapsing due to high fuel prices. You can share with your tenants a free FAQ sheet to reassure them about what this may mean for their energy supply, and encourage them to directly contact their supplier with any questions or concerns. You can also make them aware of these five sources of finance if they struggle to pay their bills in the coming months.
Opening on 18 October 2021, eligible tenants may be eligible to get up to £140 off their electricity bill during the 2021-2022 winter season under the new Warm Home Discount Scheme. This would not be a direct payment to your tenants, but rather a one-off discount on their bill between October and March.
For your tenants to be eligible, they will need to qualify in one of two ways. The first way is with the "Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit". Eligible tenants should receive a letter explaining how to get the discount.
If your tenants are on a low income, they'll need to meet their energy supplier's criteria instead. Even tenants with a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go meter for their supply could benefit, they would simply receive a voucher if they were eligible. Each tenant should check if their energy supplier is part of the scheme and then check how to apply directly with their supplier.
Your tenants could benefit from a Cold Weather Payment of £25 per day over a 7 day period, if the average temperature where they live is recorded as zero degrees celsius or below over those days, between 1 November and 31 March.
Your tenants may be eligible for these payments if they receive:
Eligible tenants won't need to apply, but will automatically receive these payments.
For any of your elderly tenants born on or before 26 September 1955, they could receive a of £100 to £300 by 14 January 2022 to help pay their heating bills with a tax-free Winter Fuel Payment. If they fit this age bracket, and also get the State Pension or another social security benefit that isn't Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit, this payment will be made automatically.
If they don't get either of those benefits but still meet the age criteria, they will need to make a claim by 31 March 2022 for winter 2021-2022. Once they've received their first payment, they will not need to reapply the following year, unless they defer their pension or move to Switzerland or an EEA country.
If your tenants find themselves in debt for their energy bills, they may also be able to find financial support from charitable trusts, to help them pay it off. While your tenants should check if there's a relevant trust through their current supplier, British Gas Energy Trust offers grants even to those who aren't British Gas customers.
Most trusts would need your tenants to share detailed information about their financial situation, and demonstrate that they have received debt advice before they apply.
The government has also announced £500m in support to be made available to help vulnerable households across the UK with essential costs, as other means of financial support such as furlough ease. The funds will be shared with local councils in October 2021, which will have the responsibility of using this to share "small grants to meet daily needs such as food, clothing, and utilities". As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak said: "Everyone should be able to afford the essentials, and we are committed to ensuring that is the case."
The grants will be available over the winter and anyone wishing to claim the support should contact their local council to understand how they can access it.
This article is intended as a guide only. It is not exhaustive and does not constitute legal advice. For more information, please refer to gov.uk.
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Oh Goodlord Limited is an Appointed Representative of Goodlord Protect Limited for general insurance products and credit broking. Goodlord Protect Limited is directly authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, registration number 836727. You can check this information on the Financial Services Register by visiting www.fca.org.uk/register or by telephoning 0800 111 6768 (Freephone) or 0300 500 8082 from the UK. The FCA is the independent watchdog that regulates financial services.