Helen is running a telephone advice line for families who are worried about their bills, or who would like information about ways to reduce their costs, as part of the project outlined below.
Practitioners can refer families by emailing email@example.com. Please note that Helen works on a Tuesday and a Thursday, and can call families between 9.30am and 3.30pm. If a family on a low-income wishes to refer themselves, please email Helen with your details. Alternatively, you can call Helen on 0773 8887612 on a Tuesday or Thursday between 9.30am and 3.30pm.
A national charity, National Energy Action are also running a telephone advice line if you need support with your energy bills, or advice on which benefits you need to claim.
You can get in contact with their Warm and Safe Homes Advice Service by calling 0800 304 7159 for free Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm, filling out their referral form (nea.org.uk/advice/wash-advice) or messaging them through Facebook chat via their dedicated Facebook page.
Covid-19 update – the government have agreed measures with all energy suppliers to support customers who are self-isolating. Customers with pre-payment meters who may not be able to add credit can speak to their supplier about options to keep them supplied. This could include nominating a third party for credit top ups, having a discretionary fund added to their credit, or being sent a pre-loaded top up card so that their supply is not interrupted. More broadly, any energy customer in financial distress will also be supported by their supplier, which could include debt repayments and bill payments being reassessed, reduced or paused where necessary, while disconnection of credit meters will be completely suspended.
Links to websites with useful information on reducing home energy costs
Comparing costs and switching supplier
Helen at CCB recommends this website as it is easy to use and shows the whole market of suppliers and tariffs: https://energycompare.citizensadvice.org.uk/
See a ‘how to’ guide by Ofgem – https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/how-switch-energy-supplier-and-shop-better-deal
Warm Home Discount Scheme – will open September 2020
This Warm Home Discount Scheme can provide a rebate off your electricity bill. People on low incomes, including families, pensioners, as well as people with long term illness or disabilities, may qualify for a rebate of £140 from their energy supplier, which is paid in the winter/spring. Pensioners on low incomes are paid the Warm Home Discount automatically, but all of those other groups stated have to contact their electricity supplier each year to claim this discount.
For more information on the Warm Home Discount, and how to claim it, visit: https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme.
For a list of energy suppliers running the scheme, and links to their websites and online application forms, visit: https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/energy-suppliers
This scheme is run on a first come first served basis, and there is usually only a window of about 3 months from September to make a claim. For some suppliers, even if you have received the discount previously, you’ll need to apply again for future schemes.
For families on low incomes, criteria vary from supplier to supplier, so check with them to see if you qualify. All offer the discount to low income families with children under 5, however some offer it to low-income families with children under 18 in full time education, or on free school meals. Check the criteria for your supplier via a link on the GOV UK web-pages on the scheme (see above), or visit your supplier’s website.
Customers who qualify for The Warm Home Discount may also qualify for a price-cap. See: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/energy-price-caps/about-energy-price-caps/price-my-energy-bill-capped/energy-price-caps-and-warm-home-discount
Reducing energy usage at home
For tips please visit: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/domestic
Insulation measures and boiler repairs and replacement for low-income families
Struggling to pay your bills? – links to Citizens Advice help and support below
- What to do if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills
- You can’t afford to top up your prepayment meter
- Stop your energy supplier moving you to prepayment
- Grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills
- Getting extra support from your energy supplier
- Make sure your home is energy efficient
The CCB Family Home Energy Education and Advice Project
Fuel poverty affects more than 2.4 million households in UK. It can be caused by numerous factors: low income, poor heating and insulation, and unaffordable energy prices. It can severely impact on health and well-being, and rising NHS costs.
CCB delivers this project to bring advice and guidance on reducing home energy costs to low-income families, and the front-line workers who support them in Berkshire. Helen Dean is the Project Co-ordinator for this work.
This project delivers 50 drop-in advice sessions or talks to low income families in Berkshire, and 4 training sessions to front-line workers who support low-income families. Sessions will be run in Slough, Bracknell, Wokingham, Windsor and Maidenhead, and West Berkshire. Helen is working in partnership with Children’s Centres across Berkshire, Homestart groups across the county, the WEA and Slough Job Centre. This valuable advice will enable vulnerable families to reduce their home energy costs by getting the best deal on their gas, electricity or oil and switch supplier where appropriate. Guidance will also be given to those on a low income to claim the benefits they are entitled to, and get help with insulation and boiler repairs/replacement. Helen will also advise how to reduce energy use at home. Berkshire Community Foundation, and Tesco’s Bags for Help funds the delivery of this project.
Helen has received very positive feedback on the evaluation of her project work; advising families, and giving talks to frontline workers on how they can signpost/advise their families to reduce their home energy costs. These include:
•A comment from a mum at the session on the evaluation form after a 1:1 consultation; “Very useful and reminded me that it’s really worth looking into switching providers”.
•Feedback from a student after a talk to an English lesson for families in Slough; “Helen Dean gave a very good presentation about energy saving. It was really useful for us. She explained everything in details. Now I am glad to know new tips about energy saving, Thanks a lot.”
•At the Health Visitor staff training on held at a staff meeting in Slough; “Excellent advice, very useful for staff awareness” Sarah Parsons, Head of Slough Children’s Services.