Energy Advice and Fuel Poverty

Telephone advice on cutting the costs of your bills and dealing with debt for low-income families.

Helen Dean is giving tailored 1:1 telephone advice on cutting the cost of your bills to families referred by frontline workers supporting them. Just email Helen at helen.dean@ccberks.org.uk with the family’s details and mobile telephone number, and Helen will get in touch.

If you wish to discuss a family’s situation first, please call Helen on 0773 8887612. Helen’s usual working days are Tuesday and Thursday, although sometimes these can vary.

Training for supporting low-income families can also be arranged, either short focused sessions, or a webinar on all aspects of saving money on household bills and dealing with debt.

Comparing costs and switching supplier

Due to the energy crisis, as of January 2022, the cheapest tariff is the standard variable tarriff, and all deals are currently more expensive. This will change in April 2022 when the price cap that’s set by the government goes up, and switching suppliers to save may then be an option. Check whether there are cheaper deals available to you from March 22 onwards.

Helen 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 again for applications in September/October 2022
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 £150 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.

The government have said they will be extending this scheme this year, and Helen suggests you diary date for this September to check out the rules using the links above.

Reducing energy usage at home
For tips please visit: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/domestic

And https://www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk/energy-efficiency/reduce-bills

Insulation measures and boiler repairs and replacement for low-income families

See: https://www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk/pages/energy-company-obligation

Heat the Home Counties – This is a great scheme for home improvements for families with an income of £35k and under in the boroughs of Bracknell Forest, Spelthorne, Runneymeade, West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead – see https://www.heatthehomecounties.org.uk/

Thames Water discounts available for families on low-incomes

If you are on a low income and/or struggling to pay your water bill please call Thames Water’s Extra Care Services team and they will run through your options and the support available. You can reach them on 0800 009 3652 from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Thames Water Help – if your gross household income is under £16,385 (this will increase in £16,480 in April 22) not including disability benefits, apply to Thames Water to have your water bill halved: https://www.thameswater.co.uk/help/account-and-billing/financial-support/waterhelp

Thames Watersure – for families on means-tested benefits who have 3 or more children, or where someone in the household has a water dependant medical condition. If you have a water meter, this caps your bill at £423 per year in 2022-23. See – https://www.thameswater.co.uk/help/account-and-billing/financial-support/waterhelp

Struggling to pay your bills? – links to Citizens Advice help and support below

The CCB Family Fuel and Water Poverty Project

Due to home energy price rises in April 2022 fuel poverty in the UK will affect 6.3 million households. 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:

  • Drop-in advice sessions or talks to groups where families meet in Berkshire (such as in Children’s Centres)
  • Telephone advice and support through referrals from frontline workers supporting low-income families
  • Training sessions for frontline workers supporting families on advice and support they can give

Sessions will be run in Slough, Bracknell, Wokingham, Windsor and Maidenhead, and West Berkshire.

Helen is working in partnership with Children’s Centres, Homestart groups, Job Centres, and Health Visiting, Social Services and Young Carers teams.

This valuable advice will enable vulnerable families to reduce their home energy and water costs in a variety of ways, bespoke to the individual’s circumstance

Funding for this project is from Berkshire Community Foundation, The Sackler Trust, Schroder Charity Trust, The Payne Galwey Charitable Trust, The Syder Foundation, and The Arnold Clark Community Fund.

 Click here to read the full Case Study for CCB Family Home Energy Education and Advice Project – Veronika

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:

“The advice was very informative and although I though I was on top of this stuff there is clearly a lot that I was not aware of.”

“It’s really helpful information that is needed for every family. Every little help makes a big difference.”

Comments on the bespoke telephone advice from families:

“I was struggling with my bills, lost, confused, and in a panic about my debt. After talking to Helen, I felt more confident, more relaxed, and brave to be able to talk to the energy company.” Jurgita.

“Thank you once again, you really have made it clear that we don’t have to spend so much to keep our house warm.” Rosie

Comment on the training for frontline workers on energy and water advice and dealing with debt:

“This training was fantastic. I had no idea so much was available to assist people who face challenges fuelling their homes, and how to access grants and organisations. Thank you! Infinitely useful and so important.” Hannah, Support Worker at Alana House, Domestic Abuse Charity.