Ben Everitt, the MP for Milton Keynes North, has created the following guide to make it easier for constituents to find out about the support available for them with the ongoing global increase in the Cost Of Living.
For further information on the support that may be available to you please click here.
Support with Energy Bills:
The Government's Energy Price Guarantee will reduce the unit cost of electricity and gas so that a typical household in Great Britain pays, on average, around £2,500 a year on their energy bill, until April 2023, from 1 October 2022. In April the support will be targeted to the most vulnerable households across the country.
The consumer saving will be based on usage, but on average usage a household will save £1,000 a year (based on current prices from October). Energy suppliers will be fully compensated by the government for the savings delivered to households.
In May 2022, the Government announced £15 billion of support in the Energy Bill Rebate Package. Please see some of the measures listed below:
- Energy Bill Discount - £400 off energy bills for households in Great Britain from this October. This automatic, non-repayable discount will be applied in six instalments between October 2022 and March 2023 to help households through winter.
- Cost of Living Payment - Households on means tested benefits, including Universal Credit, Pension Credit and Tax Credits, will receive a payment of £650 this year. This will be made automatically in two instalments, one in summer and another in the autumn, and is in addition to the £400 discount on energy bills.
- Disability Cost of Living Payment - Individuals on disability benefits will receive a one-off £150 payment in September to help with extra costs, such as for specialist equipment or transport. This is in addition to the £650 Cost of Living Payment for disabled people who also receive means tested benefits.
- Pensioner Cost of Living Payment - In the winter months pensioners can get between £100 and £300 to help pay heating bills. This winter, they will also receive an extra one-off £300 Pensioner Cost of Living Payment, which will be paid as an automatic top-up to the Winter Fuel Payment.
In January 2023, the Government announced a further package of support for households:
Exact payment windows will be announced closer to the time, but are spread across a longer period to ensure a consistent support offering throughout the year. They will be broadly as follows:
- £301 – First Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2023
- £150 – Disability Payment – during Summer 2023
- £300 – Second Cost of Living Payment – during Autumn 2023
- £300 – Pensioner Payment – during Winter 2023/4
- £299 – Third Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2024
For further information on the Government’s measures to support with energy bills please click here.
Many suppliers are also providing a variety of support to help people struggling with energy bills.
British Gas has announced the launch of a new £10 million prepayment customer support fund that is ringfenced for and targeted to help prepayment and vulnerable customers. We are also introducing new policies to ensure further help gets to those who need it most.
We know that some prepayment customers are self-disconnecting and not coming forward for help. We already have processes in place to monitor for any signs of disconnection, but British Gas will be going further by proactively identifying those who are eligible and in need of help to provide this targeted support. Customers will not need to contact British Gas to apply.
The additional commitments we’ve made this winter for prepayment customers include:
- £10 million credit support fund: non-repayable prepayment meter credit up to £250 on for those struggling with energy costs. British Gas will identify those who would most benefit for this and there is no need for customers to apply.
- Extra vulnerability checks: enhanced processes around assessing and identifying vulnerabilities to ensure support is targeted where it is needed, and self-disconnections are identified.
- No remote switches: a commitment to not remotely switch customers to prepayment meters this winter unless the customer requests it.
- Smart prepayment meters: Ensuring those who are struggling with energy costs have smart prepayment meters to make sure any issues are identified quickly, and support provided.
This new fund is part of British Gas’ £50m support package and our commitment to contribute 10% of energy supply profits to support those who need help the most, including through direct grants of up to £1,500. This comes on top of the support that we are already offer customers through the British Gas Energy Trust (BGET) – an independent charity, funded solely by British Gas. BGET offers holistic energy debt advice through funding provided to frontline advice organisations, support through grants, even if you’re not a British Gas customer, as well as credit vouchers for customers on pre-payment meters.
If any of your constituents are struggling to pay their gas or electricity bills, please do encourage them to contact their energy supplier and further information about grants available for British Gas customers can be found here: British Gas Energy Support Fund
Anglian Water have set up a package of support which includes discounted tariffs on water bills of up to 50 per cent for eligible customers, temporary payment plans, forgiveness schemes, payment breaks in certain circumstances, and also includes direct support through the Anglian Water Assistance Fund, which is specially designed to help cover the cost of bills when people are going through the most challenging times.
In addition to this direct support, they also help customers identify wider external packages available to them which can help ease their financial burdens.
You can contact Anglian Water via their website, Twitter or Facebook accounts or call our Extra Care Team directly on 0800 169 3630.
Targeted support is available for low-income customers who use a lot of water for essential family or health reasons through the WaterSure scheme. And, more broadly, a wide range of assistance (not just financial) is available through the Priority Services Register for a wide range of people, from those with sight, hearing, or mobility difficulties, to parents with babies under 12 months old.
A new campaign ‘Support on Tap’ from Water UK and CCW aims to make as many people as possible aware of the help available from water companies. Full details of available support is available on the campaign website.
The Government will provide a discount on your gas and electricity unit prices through the Energy Bill Relief Scheme. To calculate your discount, the estimated wholesale portion of the unit price you would be paying this winter will be compared to a baseline ‘government supported price’ which is lower than currently expected wholesale prices this winter.
For all non-domestic energy users in Great Britain this government supported price has been set at:
- £211 per megawatt hour (MWh) for electricity
- £75 per MWh for gas
- Changes to the Universal Credit taper rate and work allowances worth £1,000 a year on average for working claimants.
- A rise in the National Living Wage to £9.50 an hour.
- The £150 Council Tax rebate introduced by the Government earlier this year would have benefitted the 95,890 properties in Bands A-D in Milton Keynes. MK Council was also given further funding from the Government to support vulnerable families who do not live in Bands A-D properties.
- Milton Keynes City Council received a further £1.79 million from the Government’s Household Support Fund to support families most in need between April and September.
- The National Insurance threshold was increased from £9,500 to £12,570 so you now keep more of the money you earn.
Further support from other organisations:
- Citizens Advice can assist people with a wide range of matters from financial advice to smart ways to reduce their cost of living.
- Money Helper is a service which provides an extensive guide on money managing strategies and their guide contains budgeting tips for dealing with the energy price increase.
- Other Services which may be able to support people who are struggling include the Money Advice Service, National Debtline and StepChange Debt Charity
ROYAL BRITISH LEGION
The Royal British Legion has launched Everyday Needs Grants, providing up to £2,400 over 12 months for members of the Armed Forces community struggling with the global increases in the cost of living.
Broadband social tariff
For £12 per month Vodafone Essentials Broadband is available to people on Job Seekers Allowance, Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. There are no set-up or leaving fees, and customers won’t be subject to in-contract price changes. The plan gives access to Vodafone’s quality Fibre 1 or Full Fibre 1 plan for 12 months, providing fast and reliable connectivity with average download speeds of 38Mbps.
This new tariff complements our existing mobile social tariff, VOXI for Now, which gives access to unlimited data, calls and text for £10 a month. Vodafone is the only network provider to offer social tariffs across fixed and mobile, meaning eligible customers can access mobile and broadband connectivity for 72 pence a day.
Small business broadband
Vodafone are also offering one year’s free broadband for small businesses to help them mitigate rising costs and stay connected to customers. This new support package offers Vodafone’s award-winning business grade broadband free for 12-months on a 24-month plan and is available to new and existing customers who are eligible to upgrade.