Help with energy costs

We will be distributing Cost of Living vouchers this winter to people who are struggling to cope with soaring energy bills and food prices. The vouchers are targeted to residents who need the most help. This includes families with school aged children eligible for pupil premium free school meals, vulnerable children up to nursery age and care leavers.

Older people receiving state pension and also on the council tax reduction scheme, or in receipt of housing benefit, as well as older people receiving the state pension and in receipt of pension credit or savings credit and not on the Council Tax Reduction Scheme will also receive support.

There is no need to contact the council about the vouchers. The council holds a list of eligible residents and will contact them directly.

Help with energy costs and utilities
Disability Energy Support Service
The Energy Price Guarantee
Free energy saving home improvements available
The Energy Bills Support Scheme
Warm home discount scheme
DraughtBusters
Energy costs if your benefits stop
Energy scams
Thames Water
Help for Households

Help with energy costs and utilities

It can be difficult or impossible to switch to a cheaper tariff, so its more important to get the most from the energy you pay for.

Useful information and advice are available from:

Disability Energy Support Service

Scope run a Disability Energy Support Service that’s open to all households across England and Wales in which one or more disabled people live. They provide practical advice and support if you are worried about your energy or water charges.

Service users can also access:

  • Employment – Supporting disabled people gain employment
  • Family – Supporting parents and carers of disabled children
  • Helpline – Supporting on topics such as benefits, social care, housing, and assistive technology
  • Online community – Forum for disabled people, parents, and carers to get advice and information

For more information call 0808 801 0828 or visit their website.

National Energy Action charity works to make sure that everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is warm and safe at home. You can contact them on 0800 304 7159 Monday to Friday 10am to 12pm or visit their website.

The Energy Price Guarantee

The government has put a limit on the rates your supplier can charge you for gas and electricity from 1 October 2022 for two years. This means a typical household on average will pay around £2,500 a year for their gas and electricity depending on usage. 

The Energy Price Guarantee will be applied automatically, you do not need to do anything.

Free energy saving home improvements available

We have £1.7m for sustainable warmth grants. Reading residents on a low income can now apply for free home improvements to help them save energy.

To qualify for the free home improvements, properties must have an EPC rating of D, E, F or G – which can be checked here: www.gov.uk/find-energy-certificate. If a property doesn’t have an EPC, residents can still apply.

Applicants must also have a total annual household income of below £30,000 (or under £20,000 after rent/mortgage costs) or receive certain means tested benefits. Private landlords are also eligible for the scheme, though they will need to contribute one-third towards the cost of the work.

Find out more about the sustainable warmth scheme, being delivered for the council by City Energy. There is also a link to the City Energy application page.

The Energy Bills Support Scheme

This provides a £400 non-repayable discount to eligible households to help with their energy bills over winter 2022 to 2023. You don’t need to do anything to get the money and you won’t have to pay it back. 

You’ll get the £400 in 6 instalments starting from October 2022. How you receive the discount depends on how you pay for energy:

  • Direct Debit – your supplier will either reduce your direct debit amount after the discount or refund the money to your bank account each month.
  • Smart prepayment meter – the discount payment will be applied to your smart meter in the first week of each month.
  • Traditional prepayment meter – you will receive a voucher from your supplier to take to your usual top-up point in the first week of each month. The message will be either by text message, email or post and will have instructions. It can only be applied to your account.
  • Standard credit or payment card – your supplier will add the discount as a credit to your account in the first week of each month.

Contact your supplier if you can’t see the deduction on your bill or statement, or the refund in your bank account.

More information about the government’s support for the cost of living.

Warm home discount scheme

The Warm Home Discount Scheme will open in November 2022. You could get £140 off your electricity bill.

DraughtBusters

The DraughtBusters draught proofing service is available to people living in energy poverty, families with young children, the elderly and people under debt management. They might be able to help others too if you make contact.

If you’d like to enquire about DraughtBusters helping you draught proof your home, just email ReadingDraughtBusters@gmail.com and they’ll get in touch with you.

Energy costs if your benefits stop

If your benefits stop and you need help with energy costs follow these simple steps.

  • Step 1
    Contact your energy supplier (early morning is normally quieter)
  • Step 2
    When they ask for an account number, dial ‘0#’ on your telephone keypad, you will be told this is incorrect, dial ‘0#’ again.
  • Step 3
    You will now be put through to customer service. Explain that you don’t have any money to top up and give a rough date when you are next due to be paid.
  • Step 4
    Your supplier will ask you some questions and may ask you to read your meter screens, they will generate a code. Wait 1 hour and then go to your local ‘Pay as you go’ store along with your energy card / key and code.
  • Step 5
    The shop keeper will dial in the code, insert the key or card and that’s it.
  • Step 6
    Take this home, insert it into your machine and you will now have funds to use.

Remember you will need to pay this back to the supplier at a weekly rate so ask how much this will be.

Energy scams

Scammers are using the various support packages from the government to get hold of personal information or bank details.

They do this in many ways. For example, they may pretend to be from the Department for Work and Pensions, an energy provider or Ofgem.

You do not need to apply yourself to receive any financial assistance from the government. All support is applied automatically.

If you receive a call, text or email that you are suspicious about, don’t provide any information.

More advice on dealing with fraud.

Reading Borough Council Trading Standards is responsible for maintaining the fairness of the trading environment in Reading by protecting the interests of consumers and reputable traders.

Thames Water

If you are struggling with your water bill help is available from Thames Water. This includes ways to reduce the charge you pay, applying for help with any arrears you might have or signing up for priority services.

Help for Households

The government have set up a Help for Households website with lots of useful information on:

  • Income support
  • Energy bills
  • Childcare costs
  • Household costs
  • Transport costs
  • Finding work
  • Discounts and offers