Global wholesale energy prices have increased significantly, which has led to energy providers paying a high price for gas and electricity. Ofgem’s price cap has meant that, to some extent, most of us have been protected, but it has meant that some of our suppliers have gone out of business as they have not been able to absorb the increase. However, a new price cap of £1971, an increase of over 54%, has now been put in place by Ofgem. The Government is working on the basis that the price for our energy will come down over the next few years and will be putting measures in place to help the majority of consumers pay for their increased energy this year. Most will see a £150 reduction in their Council Tax bill and a £200 one off payment towards their energy bill but we will have to pay the latter back in instalments over the next five years – at a time when the Government thinks that the prices will come back down.
Whatever your financial position, an increase of £693 per year will affect almost everyone, but particularly those on a low pension. The advice from Citizen’s Advice and others is to contact your supplier first. Be assured that being ‘cut off’ is a last resort and rarely happens now but the best advice is to make that call sooner rather than later. You will find that the phone lines are busy and have been for several weeks.
We have written before on the subject of Pension Credit which is an under used benefit, but if you are struggling financially and of State Pension Age, the increase in energy costs will be a severe blow and if you are not already on Pension Credit, find out if are eligible. It also opens up access to other benefits, including the Warm Home Discount and the Cold Weather Payment.
You may have heard of the Warm Home Discount already and have been contacted by your energy supplier, particularly if you are already on a low income and get certain means-tested benefits. Although the application date for this year may have passed, your supplier may have an opportunity for you to claim it, but you would need to apply directly to them. It could give you another £140 off energy bills.
Cold weather payments are available to those who get pension credit and do not live in a care home.
There are a number of agencies who can help (all have on line support available too) –
National Energy Action: 0800 304 7159
Pension Service Telephone: 0800 731 0469
Roswyn Bradshaw is a caseworker in the private client team at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Suffolk.
For more information on our range of legal services including elderly client care, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email email@example.com