According to data from National Energy Agency, fuel poverty will hit a staggering 6.3 million households in England in 2023.
Ahead of Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, Thursday 30 November 2023, Severn Wye Energy Agency's advice service, Warm and Well, is highlighting the ways in which households may be able to gather extra support.
Many households experiencing fuel poverty are having to spend more than 10 per cent of their household income to heat their homes. This is influenced by the level of income, fuel costs and energy consumption — and the fact that many houses aren't energy efficient.
Households facing fuel poverty often avoid turning their heating on, potentially causing physical health issues such as heart attacks, strokes, bronchitis and asthma; delay paying their heating bills, causing a backlog of debt that could become uncontrollable; and experience stress levels that have an adverse effect on their mental health.
As the UK braces for colder winter months, more and more households are turning to the Home Upgrade Grant scheme to ease the strain on their bank accounts.
Aimed at low-income households living in properties that are off-gas, the Home Upgrade Grant scheme offers low carbon alternatives to gas central heating, such as storage heating and heat pumps, with some homes benefitting from fully-funded home improvements worth thousands of pounds — to keep families warmer for less.
Aside from the Home Upgrade Grant, helpful options for vulnerable households and those experiencing fuel poverty include:
- The Winter Fuel Payment — in which those born before 1957 can receive between £250 to £600 to put towards heating bills.
- The Warm Home Discount scheme — a one-off discount for those on low income of £150 from their electricity bill up until March 2024.
- Cold Weather Payments — those on benefits automatically receive £25 when the average temperature forecast is zero degrees or below for seven consecutive days.
The Warm and Well support services provided by Severn Wye Energy Agency include an adviceline and advocacy team, who can help households through offering fuel debt support, giving advice on energy bills, assisting in negotiations by liaising with energy providers, as well as helping with insulation and heating grants — and you can access the advice over the phone or by requesting a home visit.
Pay Warmth Forward, another initiative from Severn Wye, allows households who feel that they don't need their Winter Fuel Payment to donate it to someone in greater need.
Severn Wye uses the payment to install radiators and provide electric blankets to vulnerable people without heat this winter. To find out more about this scheme and to donate, visit severnwye.org.uk/donate.
To find out more about the Home Upgrade Grant scheme and to check if you qualify, complete the online form by visiting warmandwell.co.uk.
Alternatively, call the Warm and Well advice line on 0800 500 3076.