Up to now, people who don’t have a direct contract with an electricity supplier have not been able to benefit from support with their energy bills. Now, that’s set to change.
The government has launched a scheme for households to apply for a one-off, non-repayable lump sum of £400. It’s aimed at those for example living in park homes and care homes, as well as those who receive their energy through a commercial contract or who are off-grid.
The Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS AF) “alternative funding” can be accessed via an online portal and is available to households across England, Scotland, and Wales. Eligible customers who do not have online access can use a dedicated customer helpline to apply.
The government has already provided over £7.2 billion to 97% of households across England, Scotland, and Wales through monthly instalments, which most households receive automatically in the same way they pay these bills. The new online portal is designed to ensure that the same level of support reaches those without a direct relationship to an electricity supplier.
The launch of the online portal follows a successful pilot scheme with local authorities in England, Scotland, and Wales to refine the process, making sure the system can deliver support in a robust, secure, and efficient manner.
Once applications have been processed and verified, eligible customers’ details will be shared with local authorities who will deliver the support in one lump sum. The exact date that an eligible household will receive support will depend on when the application is made and when the payment can be processed by the relevant local authority. To ensure people feel the benefit of this support as quickly as possible, the payment will be provided directly into people’s bank accounts.
Local authorities may request additional information to assist their verification process – but only once an application has been made via the secure portal or helpline. Applicants will only be able to submit information through these channels and should not contact their local authority.
The Energy Security Secretary, Grant Shapps, will ask local authorities to process applications as quickly as possible. He will also announce the launch of the Alternative Fuel Payment Alternative Fund, a similar scheme that will provide £200 towards energy costs for households who use alternative fuels such as heating oil, biomass, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to heat their homes.
The government’s Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) will continue to provide support for another 12 months from April 2023, providing an average of £500 support for households in 2023 to 2024. A further £1,200 of support in direct payments is also being provided to vulnerable households this year, with £26 billion worth of targeted support to help protect the most vulnerable announced by the Chancellor for the next financial year.
The government is urging all eligible households to apply as soon as possible for their support, while also warning households to stay alert to potential scams and report them to relevant authorities. They will never provide any links to the application portal, or directly ask individuals to apply for the £400 support.
Households eligible to apply for support under EBSS Alternative Funding include: care home residents and others in care facilities/sheltered accommodation (wholly or partly self-funded); park home residents; houseboats and caravans that can provide proof of address; social and private tenants who pay for energy through a landlord on a commercial supply; homes on a heat network/private wire; off-grid homes; farmhouses used for wholly domestic purposes.
To check eligibility and apply for the £400 of support, people need to search for “Apply for energy bill support if you do not get it automatically” in the search bar on GOV.UK or in an internet search engine.
For those without online access, the contact centre helpline can be reached on 0808 175 3287 for applicants in Great Britain, or 0808 175 3894 for applicants in Northern Ireland, where a representative will guide them through the application process. The helpline is open 08:00 to 18:00, Monday to Friday.
Further details can be found here.