Housing & energy grants
Find free cash for your home
There's free cash available to help increase your home's energy efficiency or pay your energy bills – hundreds of millions of pounds of it. The key is knowing where to look.
The main energy grants & freebies
Energy is one of the main grant-giving areas, as substantial Government funding is available to reduce our impact on the environment. The Government, energy suppliers and local authorities all provide grants to help you save energy.
It's worth everyone checking if they're eligible. Here's some inspiration...
I have been lucky enough to qualify for a brand new boiler. I didn't think I'd meet the criteria but I did, so check and see if you qualify too.
All households in the UK will get £100s in support this year, after the Government announced a new cost of living support package. We've details below, or you can watch Martin's Q&A with (now former) Chancellor Rishi Sunak on the announcements.
- Households in England, Wales and Scotland to get a non-repayable £400 energy grant. This replaces the so-called £200 'loan-not-loan' scheme announced in February. The new scheme will give virtually all households a £400 non-repayment grant this winter – added either as credit on your account or sent as vouchers if you've a traditional prepayment meter. It'll be paid from October, likely as multiple payments rather than one lump-sum.
- Those on certain means-tested benefits will get £650. This will be paid in two instalments – one in July, one in the autumn. To qualify, you need to be in receipt of a qualifying benefit, or have begun a claim that is later successful, on 25 May 2022 (or 24 August if you're on pension credit). Eligibility for the second payment hasn't been announced yet. See the full list of benefits.
- Those that get the winter fuel payment will get an extra £300. The Government will also top up the winter fuel payment – if you're eligible, you'll get an extra £300 on top of what you'd normally be entitled to under the scheme. This will be paid in November or December.
- An extra £150 for those on disability benefits. Those on qualifying disability benefits will get £150 in September.
- Households in council tax bands A to D get a £150 council tax rebate. The payments were due to made in April 2022, and while some have received theirs already, we know many haven't. The exact timing will vary between councils, and they officially have until 30 September 2022 to pay the rebate. See our Council tax rebate MSE news story for more.
The Warm Home Discount scheme requires suppliers with more than 50,000 customers to help vulnerable people in the UK pay for their energy. The money isn't paid to you – it's a £150 rebate applied to your electricity or gas bill between October and March. If you're on a prepay meter, you'll usually be sent a top-up voucher.
Following a recent shake-up, if you're in England and Wales the money is paid automatically – previously, some had to apply to get it. You should get it if you qualify under the following criteria:
- If you get pension credit, you should get it automatically. If you or your partner receive the 'guarantee credit' element of pension credit, and your name (or your partner's) is on your energy bill, you should be eligible for the discount under what's known as 'core group 1'.
Provided your energy supplier is part of the scheme (see the full list below), you should receive a letter (usually sent between October and December) confirming when the £150 will be deducted from your electricity bill. The letter may also ask you to contact the Warm Home Discount helpline to confirm your details. The helpline can also be used if you need assistance, or if you've not received your letter. Call 0800 731 0214.
- On certain benefits? You should get the discount automatically – if you're deemed to have 'high energy costs'. If you don't qualify for the above, you may still get the discount automatically if you're in receipt of certain benefits (such as universal credit and income support) and your home has 'high energy costs' (see full eligibility criteria below), under what's known as 'core group 2'.
If you're eligible, and providing your supplier is part of the scheme, you should receive a letter confirming when the £150 will deducted from your bill. The Government has also said it is looking into providing an online tool to allow people to check their eligibility.
Warm home discount FAQs
- Income-related employment and support allowance
- Income-based jobseeker's allowance
- Income support
- Housing benefit
- Universal credit
- Child tax credits – provided your household income is below a certain level (the exact amount has not been announced yet)
- Working tax credits – provided your household income is below a certain level (the exact amount has not been announced yet)
- Pension credit savings credit
Your home will need to have 'high energy costs'. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will set out the threshold of what high energy costs are each year.
It will determine if your household hits these thresholds using data from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) on the type of property (for example, semi-detached or detached), property age and floor area.
Currently, it's difficult to check whether your home is eligible under the high energy costs criteria. However, according to Ofgem, BEIS are looking at developing a tool to check your eligibility.
You can easily compare tariffs from the following suppliers that offer the discount via our Cheap Energy Club – simply select the warm home discount filter, under 'tariff features':
- Affect Energy (contact Octopus Energy)
- Atlantic (contact SSE)
- British Gas (incl Scottish Gas)
- British Gas Evolve
- Co-op Energy (contact Octopus Energy)
- E (gas and electricity)
- E.on Next
- EDF Energy
- Green Energy UK*
- London Power (contact Octopus Energy)
- Lumo (contact Ovo Energy)
- M&S Energy (contact Octopus Energy)
- Octopus Energy
- Ovo Energy
- Qwest Energy (contact Octopus Energy)
- Roar Power (contact Octopus Energy)
- Sainsbury's Energy
- Scottish Power
- Shell Energy
- So Energy
- SSE Southern Electric
- SSE Scottish Hydro
- SSE Swalec
- Utility Warehouse
* Only provides the discount to the 'core group'.
If you're eligible for the warm home discount, what matters is who your supplier is on what's known as the 'qualifying date' – this will be announced later this year for this winter's scheme. Provided it is part of the Warm Home Discount scheme, you will get the discount from whichever supplier you were with on this date, whether you've switched away from it since or not.
You shouldn't have to do anything extra to get it if you switch before you get the discount, though energy regulator Ofgem recommends you contact the supplier you were with to check it still has your contact details, and how and when you will be paid the rebate.
To get the rebate again next year, you'll also need to be with a participating supplier on the 'qualifying date' in 2023.
Our Cheap Energy Club will show you tariffs from suppliers that offer the discount – you can select the warm home discount filter, under 'tariff features'.
There are wads of freebies and grants on offer from energy providers, from new boilers to loft and cavity wall insulation. It's all part of their efficiency obligations to people in certain groups. It's mainly for those receiving certain benefits, such as universal credit, tax credits, pension credit or income-based benefits. The full Free Insulation & Boilers guide has more, but below's a taster of what you can get:
- Boiler replacement or repair. Heating accounts for around 60% of what you spend in a year on energy bills. Depending on your boiler's age, a shiny new efficient one could save you up to £315/year.
- Cavity wall insulation. Most homes built between 1920 and 1990 have a gap between internal and external walls. Filling the cavity with insulating mineral wool and foam means cold air's kept out, and warm air stays in, which can save an average three-bedroom home up to £280/yr. It's not for everyone, so make sure it's appropriate for your home first.
- Loft insulation. Up to a quarter of your home's heat escapes via the roof, but you can solve this by laying mineral wool under the rafters, saving up to £250/yr.
Every household with someone born on or before 26 September 1955 is entitled to help towards their winter energy costs. Under the Government's winter fuel payment scheme, provided you live in the UK for at lease one day between 20 and 26 September 2021, then regardless of income, you can grab a one-off, tax-free winter fuel payment of between £100 and £300.
You'll receive a letter from the Government telling you how much you will get, based on the following criteria.
|Lived alone (or none of the people you lived qualify).||£200||£300|
|Lived with someone under 80 who also qualifies.||£100||£200|
|Lived with someone 80 or over who also qualifies.||
|Lived in a care home but didn't receive pension credit, income support, jobseeker's allowance or income-related employment and support allowance.||£100||£150|
If you're on the state pension or in receipt of another social security benefit, such as pension credit or income-related employment and support allowance, then you should receive it automatically, paid in the same way as the other benefit you receive. See the full eligibility criteria.
If you've not had the winter fuel payment before and don't get benefits or a state pension, or only get universal credit, housing benefit, council tax reduction or child benefit, then you'll need to claim it. You can either apply by post or by calling the helpline on 0800 731 0160.
You'll receive a letter with your estimated payment date, though you should receive it before Christmas as payments are made in November and December. If you've not received it by 14 January 2022, you should contact the winter fuel payment centre.
The cold weather payment is a separate grant paid by the Government to older people and those on certain benefits, to help cover costs when temperatures hit zero and below in your area.
It applies if the average temperature is – or is forecast to be – 0°C or below for seven days in a row between 1 November and 31 March. You get £25 for each seven-day period. See our full Cold Weather Payment guide for more info.
There's help available if you're struggling to pay your bill
Some utility companies also offer help if you have large arrears on your gas, electricity or water bills. Please let us know if you have success with any of these schemes. See our What to do if you're struggling to pay your energy bills guide for information on the help you can get.
Help with your energy bill
As a result of the pandemic, energy suppliers have agreed to a number of ongoing measures to help customers that are struggling. Most importantly, your supply won't be cut off – disconnections of standard credit meters have been suspended, while prepayment customers can get emergency or additional credit to ensure the lights stay on.
There are also a range of options suppliers can offer if you are struggling, including full payment plan reviews, affordable debt repayment plans, payment breaks or reductions, allowing you more time to pay and access to hardship funds. This is all done on a case-by-case basis, so contact your supplier as soon as you can if you do start to struggle. For a full rundown of what's available, see Ofgem's website.
You can also talk to the charity National Energy Action for advice and support if you're struggling to heat your home – you can contact it on its helpline by calling 0800 304 7159 or by going online. Due to the current energy crisis, the charity is very busy, which is why MSE founder Martin Lewis has announced he will fund £100,000 for it to set up a webchat service to help more people.
Energy supplier grants if you're in arrears
To apply for help with energy arrears, you'll need to be an account holder and complete a full income and expenditure budget sheet. You'll also need to provide proof of your income, plus give details on how your arrears have built up, for example, due to illness or redundancy, and say how the grant will help you. It can take several weeks to process your claim.
Exact requirements vary – some say you need to be in receipt of certain benefits for example – but those with the greatest need are prioritised on a case-by-case basis.
Open to anyone (not just its customers): British Gas Energy Trust.
If you're having trouble paying your water bill and have fallen into debt, contact your water company to see what help it can offer. All companies offer some kind of help – this can be anything from providing repayment plans, discounts or even a cap on how much you pay.
What's available varies from company to company. Don't worry if you're unsure which scheme is best for you. Call your provider and it will assess your circumstances and decide which one will save you the most money. For more, including a full company-by-company breakdown, see Get help if you're struggling to pay your bills
The Turn2us website also has info on all the water company schemes.
There are also a range of freebies you can get from your water supplier to help you save on your water bill.
The freebies you get vary by supplier – the water efficiency site Save Water Save Money collates all the best ones up for grabs.
Examples include flush bags, water widgets, shower timers and water audit leaflets. To see what you can get, plus more details on how the scheme works, go to the full Cut Water Bills guide.
The top home help schemes and grants
There's more home help available depending on your circumstances. Here are five more schemes and grants.
If you are elderly, disabled or on a low income, your local Home Improvement Agency (HIA) may help you to repair, improve, maintain or adapt your home. There are around 200 HIA services around the country that can help in varying ways.
Assistance can include providing a list of reliable local builders and contractors, checking if you can get financial help or helping to make your home more energy efficient. Search for your nearest HIA on the Foundations website (or Care and Repair Cymru in Wales).
Alternatively, independent charity Turn2Us has a grant search to help you check for any charities that might be able to help with things such as furniture, decorating or bills and household expenses. The grants usually depend on an individual's circumstances, maybe any illnesses or their nationality, occupation, age or income.
Local councils can provide emergency financial support under the local welfare assistance scheme.
Support is available for people in short-term crises, for things such as a sudden bereavement, a broken boiler or if you're forced to move out of a rented home.
However, it's a postcode lottery. Each council can choose whether to offer financial help or not, or who is eligible. For example, some may give furniture or food grants, while others may give cash. Ask your council for more info.
Many local fire stations offer free home fire risk assessments, to check for potential fire risks and give fire safety advice.
The check will help you plan what to do if a fire starts in your home and you'll usually be given a free smoke alarm if you don't already have one.
The scheme's open to anyone, but it's aimed at the elderly, families with young children or any homes which may carry a high fire risk.
The Chief Fire Officers Association has put together a list of what each brigade offers and you can find out more about the assessments on the Fire Service website. If your local brigade isn't listed, you could ring it to see what it offers.
A disabled facilities grant is available from your council to help towards the cost of adapting your home if you, or someone living in your property, is disabled.
You can get up to £30,000 in England, £36,000 in Wales and up to £25,000 in Northern Ireland. Disabled facilities grants aren't available in Scotland.
The grant is for work that is essential to help a disabled person live an independent life. Here's an example...
I had a disabled facilities grant to remove my bath and put in a level access shower.
Contact your council's housing or environmental health department and ask it to send you an application form before you start work. If work begins before the council's approved your application, you won't normally get anything. Find more info on the grant on the Gov.uk website, as well as your council's details.
In Wales, an additional scheme provided by Care and Repair is the Rapid Response Adaptations Programme, which helps with small-scale alterations to your home (such as grab rail instalments). You need to be referred by a health or social services professional such as an occupational therapist, so speak to your doctor to see if you qualify.
Age UK runs a local handyperson service in over 80% of the country. This involves security-checked individuals visiting elderly people's homes (though anyone over 50 can apply) to do small repairs, grab rail instalments and security improvements to doors and windows.
Charges for handyperson services are set at local levels, so call your local Age UK. Costs are around £5-£25 per hour dependent on the work being undertaken. For info, call Age UK on 0800 678 1602.
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