woman using a calculator to work out her budget

Increases to the energy price cap have left millions struggling to pay their energy bills. Image credit: Adobe

The increasing cost of living is continuing to bite households across the UK despite measures introduced by the Government last year to help ease the burden. One of the largest costs for the average person – and one that many people are still struggling to keep up with – is energy bills. Although wholesale energy prices have started to decrease as they usually do in the warmer months as demand eases, everyone in the nation will start to pay more for their gas and electricity from 1 April, with the Government’s Energy Price Guarantee rising from the current level of £2,500 to £3,000 for the average household.

Despite the new chancellor Jeremy Hunt reining in financial support on a wide scale, there is still energy bills help available for those who are struggling to make ends meet. Read on to find out more.

What can I do if I’m struggling to pay my bills?

The essential first step if you’re finding it difficult to pay your energy bills is to contact your supplier. They are obligated to help you reach a workable solution, such as an affordable payment plan. Electric and gas arrears take priority over most other debts, such as phone bills and store cards. Your payment arrangement should be an amount you can afford to pay, considering your income and outgoings.

It’s also a good idea to look at Ofgem’s website. They have lots of help and advice for people struggling with paying bills.

What financial help is available, and am I eligible?

While many individual energy suppliers and local councils have their own schemes to support families, several country-wide plans are available to consumers.

Energy Bills Support Scheme

Offering support for over 29 million households throughout the UK, the Government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme was part of its £37 billion cost of living assistance package to help families over winter 2022 to 2023.  

The scheme, which is coming to an end in April 2023, gave people a non-repayable £400 off their energy bills, paid in six monthly payments of between £66 and £67, beginning in October 2022. All UK properties with a domestic energy supply have had the payments automatically taken off their bills by the supplier. If you’re a prepayment meter customer, you should have received the discount as a credit or in redeemable vouchers.

The Government has yet to announce what support, if any, will be available from April, but the chancellor has previously said various schemes to support the most vulnerable – such as pensioners and those on certain benefits – are being explored. It is expected that further details will be outlined in the Spring Budget statement in March.

Cost of Living Payment

The Government’s Cost of Living Payment is designed to help UK households on a low income and receiving eligible benefits. The first tranche for 2022-23 was divided into two non-repayable payments of £326 and £324, totalling £650. The first payment went out to most who qualified at the end of July 2022, and the second payment was made in November 2022. 

For 2023-24, those on eligible low-income benefits will receive £301 in spring 2023, £300 in autumn 2023 and £299 in spring 2024, totalling £900. Those on eligible disability benefits will get £150 this spring, while pensioners will receive £300 during winter 2023-24.

To qualify for the payments, households must get one of the following benefits on a specified date, which will be announced over the course of the year.

  • Universal Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Pension Credit

Disability Cost of Living Payment

In addition to the Cost of Living Payment, the Government is giving an extra non-repayable £150 as a Disability Cost of Living Payment to UK households. As with the standard payment, there are specific qualifying criteria. 

The eligibility date has not yet been announced. If you received one of the following benefits on that date, you should automatically receive your payment. 

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Disability Living Allowance for children
  • Disability Living Allowance for adults
  • Child Disability Payment (in Scotland)
  • Adult Disability Payment (in Scotland)
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • War Pension Mobility Supplement

Pensioner Cost of Living Payment

If you’ll receive the Winter Fuel Payment (see below) for winter 2023, you’ll get up to £300 in addition to that and the Cost of Living Payment. It’s available throughout the UK, and you’ll be eligible if: 

  • You were born on or before 26 September 1956 


  • You live in the UK for at least one day during a set week (yet to be announced)

Winter Fuel Payment

You could receive between £250 and £350 to help with heating costs if you were born on or before 26 September 1956. This Winter Fuel Payment is non-repayable and should arrive in your bank account automatically in November or December. 

To qualify, you need to receive:

  • The State Pension
  • Another social security benefit (not including Adult Disability Payment from the Scottish Government, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit)

Council Tax Rebate

council tax rebate letter with 50 pound notes

Council tax rebates are paid straight into your bank account if you pay your council tax by direct debit. (Image credit: adobe)

Residents whose properties fall into council tax bands A to D received £150 in council tax rebates in 2022. Tax-free and non-repayable, the rebates were paid straight into your bank account if you pay your council tax by direct debit. Those who use a different payment method had to apply for the rebate. 

If you were in one of these categories on 1 April 2022, you would have qualified for a council tax rebate. 

  • Your home is in council tax bands A – D. This includes properties that are valued in band E but have an alternative valuation band of band D as a result of a disabled band reduction
  • Your property is your sole or primary, residence

Local councils also had access to a Discretionary Fund of £144 million for those who were not eligible under the main scheme. You may have been eligible if you received: 

  • Universal Credit 
  • Housing Benefit 
  • Income Support 
  • Council Tax Reduction 
  • Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) 
  • Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit 
  • Pension Credit


  • Is not on those benefits but has a net weekly income of less than £257.69 for a single person or £384.62 for a couple, with savings of less than £6,000 


  • Was living in the property being claimed for on 1 April 2022

Those living in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had similar schemes. 

It is unlikely that this scheme will be repeated in 2023.

Look after your mental health

Money worries can be a significant source of stress and anxiety, even leading to depression and worse. Debts quickly spiral out of control and can affect every part of your and your family’s lives. But there is plenty of advice and support online or at the end of a phone. Don’t suffer in silence. 

  • The Samaritans offer help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call them for free on 116 123.
  • Mind is a mental health charity, with helplines open between 9.00am and 6.00pm. There’s a lot of advice on their website, or call them for free on 0300 123 3393.
  • The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, founded by financial expert Martin Lewis, has plenty of useful advice and support on its website. 
  • Step Change Debt Charity offers support for debt and debt-related mental health issues. Their helplines are open from 8.00am to 8.00pm during the week and 8.00am to 4.00pm on Saturdays. You can call them free on 0800 138 1111.

The NHS is always there to help if you’re feeling worried and anxious. Call them on 111.

If you’re looking to lower your energy bills with an investment in home improvement, then you may want to read our guide to solar panels, or our guide to combi boilers, which offer a much more energy-efficient option than a traditional boiler.

There are also some generous Government-funded grants for heat pumps − another great way to save on bills with an environmentally-friendly heating replacement.