Energy for all!
Electricity and gas bills have been rising astronomically and the basic human rights of energy for heating, light and cooking are being denied to many. Meanwhile energy companies profits soar.
Here Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty gives some information about resources available to help pay these bills and protect your energy supply. Plus we have info about the energy bills strike and the fight for energy for all.
Contents of this page – in this order
ONE Priority Services Register:
The Priority Services Register is a free support service to help people in vulnerable situations. If eligible you should register to help protect yourself against disconnection or the forcible installation of a pre-payment meter.
TWO Resisting the forcible installation of pre-payment meters
Grounds on which you can stop a pre-payment meter being installed and gains won in the struggle against the forcible installation of pre-payment meters
THREE Financial Support from UK and Scottish Governments
Information on the Cost of Living Payments and other government grants and support available, some of which you need to apply for. Plus lots of links to get more info.
FOUR Grants from non-government bodies and charities
Info on the Home Heating Support Fund, on pre-payment meter vouchers, on grants from some energy companies, links to more info.
FIVE Advice on Energy supply problems
List of organisations you can contact for support and advice on energy problems
ECAP urges collective resistance to the extortionate rise in fuel bills – we need to fight for energy for all. Heating, lighting and energy for cooking should be a human right free for everyone. Info about Fuel Poverty Action and Don’t Pay UK
Priority Services Register
The Priority Services Register is a free support service to help people in vulnerable situations
Ask your energy supplier to put you on their priority register if your household contains:
- Anyone of state pension age
- Anyone who is disabled, or has a long-term health condition
- Anyone who has a mental health condition
- Anyone with hearing or sight impairment
- Anyone recovering from an injury or hospital stay
- A pregnant person or young children (under five years old)
- Anyone with extra communication needs such as literacy, or language eg if you don’t speak or read English well
- Anyone who needs to use medical equipment that requires a power supply
- Anyone who has poor or no sense of smell
- Anyone who would struggle to answer the door or get help in an emergency.
You might still be able to register for other reasons if your situation isn’t listed.
This will make it a lot harder for them to cut off your supply or force you onto a pre-payment meter
How to register
In Scotland you can register via the Priority Services Register for Scotland
If you don’t know who your supplier is, go to this Ofgem site If you have different companies for your gas and electricity you need to register with both.
Some links to register online here (scroll down page)
You should not be refused access to the Priority Services Register with any energy or water company if you’re eligible. If this happens seek support, eg from ECAP.
More info on the Priority Services Register
Resisting forcible installation of pre-payment meters
There is a growing movement and outcry against the forcible installation of pre-payment meters. Significant gains have been won and at the time of writing (11/2/2023) the situation is changing rapidly, so check for updates eg on Fuel Poverty Action Group facebook
The UK government has announced: “ Following Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps’ intervention, all energy suppliers have now committed to ending the forced installation of prepayment meters in vulnerable customers’ homes.” (10 Feb 2023)
The courts in England and Wales have been ordered to stop issuing warrants for the forcible installation of pre-payment meters.( See also this Disability News Service report ) Meanwhile Scottish courts are reviewing the issuing of warrants for force-fitting meters- we must insist the courts ban forcible installation in Scotland too!
You can use these announcements to back up your resistance if your energy company does still try and pressure or force you onto a pre-payment meter. Don’t let them get away with this! Seek support from a group like ECAP, Fuel Poverty Action and Don’t Pay UK.
And now we need to also demand the removal of pre-payment meters. This is firmly on the agenda as the above UK Government announcement makes clear in the paragraph below (emphasis added):
“All suppliers responded by the Energy Security Secretary’s deadline, committing to end the practice which breaches rules in place to protect vulnerable households, and setting out their plans for identifying those that may have had meters wrongfully installed. However, while several set out redress that would be provided to customers in this instance – such as providing compensation, or replacement of a prepayment meter with a credit meter – a number failed to address the question.”
Fuel Poverty Action write on 4 February 2023
2 weeks after we held nationwide protests to demand the government #BanForcedPPMs we are seeing further and stronger action being implemented.
Each of the UK’s biggest household energy suppliers now claims to have stopped forcing customers onto prepayment meters, as Ofgem finally wakes up!
The situation is as we, our partners and members have been saying in the media for countless weeks. Energy companies have been breaking into vulnerable people’s homes to claw back what little they have. Despite profits increasing eight-fold in Centrica’s case
Thank you to all who joined us on the streets and fought for this change!
More on FPA facebook
Disability campaigners ask for ban on prepayment meters
The Disability Poverty Campaign group ( DPCG) has launched a campaign asking that there be a mandatory ban on the forced installation of prepayment meters in the UK’s Disabled households. Learn more about the prepayment meter ban campaign on the Disability Rights UK website.
More info on gains/ recent developments in the struggle against forcible installation of prepayment meters
British Gas suspends applications for warrants to force-fit prepayment meters https://www.itv.com/news/2023-02-02/british-gas-suspends-applications-for-warrants-to-force-fit-prepayment-meters
- EDF suspends forced installation of prepayment meters after British Gas controversy https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/edf-suspends-forced-installation-prepayment-165000929.html?
- Pressure grows for complete ban on energy firms forcing prepay meters to claw back debt https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/cost-of-living/pre-payment-meters-british-gas-26141942
- Crackdown on forced prepayment meters ordered by government https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-64364195
- Grant Shapps has written to the nation’s gas and electricity suppliers telling them to end the practice of forcibly moving people on to the controversial meters https://inews.co.uk/news/prepayment-meters-energy-firms-grant-shapps-bills-fuel-poverty-2099127?
Beware smart meters!
It is important to resist being switched to a smart meter as they can be automatically converted to a pre-payment meter without any need to enter your home
British Gas say they are now stopping doing this British Gas will stop remote switches to prepayment meter https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-64331449
More info on stopping installation of pre-payment meters
Citizens Advice on Stopping the installation of a pre-payment meter (this is for Scotland, if elsewhere in UK go to this link then change the country on the menu)
https://goodlawproject.org/empowered-3/ Info on pre-payment meters (September 2022)
https://goodlawproject.org/empowered-4/ What to do if energy supplier takes you to court eg to install prepayment meter (mainly geared to England and Wales)
More on pre-payment meters
Call to end forced installation of UK prepayment meters after millions suffer without power – Guardian article
Financial Support from UK and Scottish Governments
2023 – 2024 timetable for UK Government payments
Info from the UK Government announcement 3 JANUARY 2023
See also the update in the UK Government announcement of 7 February 2023.
Claimants will get up to £1,350 in cost of living payments in 2023/24, with the timetable for payments now announced by the government.
Over 8 million claimants will get £900 in three payments, whilst 6 million disability benefit claimants will get an additional £150 and 8 million pensioners will get £300 in addition to their winter fuel payments.
The rough timetable for the payments is 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
These payments will all be tax-free, will not count towards the benefit cap, and will not have any impact on existing benefit awards.
Households eligible for the £900 cost of living payment will be on one of the following benefits:
- Universal Credit,
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance,
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance,
- Income Support,
- Working Tax Credit,
- Child Tax Credit,
- Pension Credit.
If individuals are eligible they will be paid automatically, and there will be no need to apply.
Claimants who are eligible for any of the Cost of Living Payments and receive tax credits, and no other means-tested benefits, will receive payment from HMRC shortly after DWP payments are issued.
Further details of who will be eligible for the disability payment were not given in the latest statement, but is likely to be people in receipt of one of the following benefits on a date to be announced:
- disability living allowance,
- personal independence payment,
- attendance allowance,
- Scottish disability benefits,
- armed forces independence payment,
- constant attendance allowance
- war pension mobility supplement.
Thanks to Winvisible for above info
If you don’t receive a payment you believe you are entitled to, then raise this with the DWP or HMRC. ECAP and other groups can support you on this.
2022 – 23 Financial support
The Government’s previous 2022 support cost of living support payments should have been automatically made to those who qualified and should now all have been paid.
However, those who believe they should have got an award but didn’t receive it can use this form to report a missing 2022 cost of living payment.
Again, seek support if you didn’t get a payment you think you were entitled to.
For example there have been reports many people on pre-payment meters have not received the £400 energy bills discount due to all households. For info on how the scheme is supposed to work if on a traditional pre-payment meter, see this UK government site
If you have a smart prepayment meter then your discount should be credited directly to your smart prepayment meter in the first week of each month.
Financial Support – Payments that you should have already received in 2022-23
Disability benefits claimants who have received the following benefits since 25 May 2022 were entitled to receive a one-off Disability Cost of Living Payment of £150: Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance for adults or for children, Personal Independence Payment, Armed Forces Independence Payment, War Pension Mobility Supplement and Adult or Child Disability Payment.
Means-tested benefits claimants receiving the following benefits should have automatically received a one-off £650 Cost of Living Payment, split into a summer and an autumn 2022 payment: Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.
Everyone should have received a £150 council tax rebate and a one-off £400 energy bill discount, which will not need to be repaid. If you live in rented accommodation your landlord should have given you this discount. If you receive the Winter Fuel Payment, you should automatically have received an extra £300 Pensioner Cost of Living Payment top-up this winter.
More on the.Energy Bills Support Scheme 2022 – 2023
All households with a domestic electricity connection in Great Britain are eligible for a discount from their bills. This £400 discount for all households, paid in monthly payments over the winter, will end in March 2023.
For pre-payment meters, the discount should have been added to the meter or paid via a voucher. Your energy supplier will need your correct details to ensure you receive this. Find out more on the UK Government’s website.
Please note some of info below applies to Scotland only, and some applies to all of the UK.
Winter Energy Bill payments
- Winter Fuel Payment (usually automatic): If you were born on or before September 1956 you should also receive a Winter Fuel Payment of between £250 and £600, this is also automatic if you are receiving a state pension or universal credit. If you are not receiving these, then you can apply. https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment
- Cold Weather Payment (usually automatic): This is an automatic payment to people in receipt of pension or disability benefits. You’ll get £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 01 November and 31 March. https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment/
- Low Income Winter Heating Assistance (usually automatic): This is set to replace the Cold Weather Payment in Scotand. An automatic payment of £50 to people in Scotland on certain benefits (such as pension credit or universal credit) is due to start from February 2023: https://www.mygov.scot/cold-weather-payment-is-changing
- Child Winter Heating Assistance (Scotland only) This is a payment of £214.10, paid once a year to parents and carers of disabled children and young people under 19 who receive a qualifying benefit. If you’re not receiving this payment but think you may be eligible, contact Social Security Scotland on 0800 182 2222 Monday – Friday 8am to 6pm or online by webchat. More info on Child Winter Heating Assistance https://www.mygov.scot/child-winter-heating-assistance
- Sources of further information for Scotland: https://www.mygov.scot/help-energy-bills
Grants you need to apply for
- Scottish Welfare Fund crisis grant (need to apply): Anyone on a low income may be eligible for a crisis grant if they are aged 16 or over, and unable to get financial help from any other appropriate source. You do not necessarily have to be on benefits, but this does help prove you are on a low income. This is administered by the local council: https://www.mygov.scot/scottish-welfare-fund/crisis-grants
- Warm Home Discount Scheme (UK-wide – you need to apply): You could get £150 off your electricity bill if you are on the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or you are on a low income and are on certain benefits, and meet the criteria of your supplier. You apply to your supplier.
- Section 12 payments If you are a vulnerable person aged 18 or over, you can get help to cover emergencies and debts. This assistance can come in the form of cash payments or vouchers. Contact your council for more information. If in Edinburgh area you can contact ECAP for support.
updated 16 1 23 pretty comprehensive
Thanks to Living Rent for some of the info in this section.
Grants from various bodies for energy
Please note some info is specifically relevant to Scotland while some applies UK or Britain-wide
Advice Direct Scotland Home Heating Support Fund
Advice Direct Scotland provides funding and support. This includes the Home Heating Support Fund which offers households financial relief to help with significant financial hardship, no matter the fuel or payment method. Call them on 0808 800 9060 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, or apply via the Home Heating Advice website.
See also https://homeheatingadvice.scot/householdfaqs/ excerpts below
WHAT IS THE HOME HEATING SUPPORT FUND?
The main objectives / expected outcomes of the grant are:
- – to support vulnerable individuals and those in need;
- – to help communities respond to the needs and challenges they are experiencing;
- – and protect the wellbeing of Scotland.
This includes assisting Scottish citizens identified as ‘self-rationing’ energy”.
The fund can help make payments towards future energy bills, depending on the customer’s situation. It can also assist towards payment outstanding debts the customer may have with their energy provider.
The fund seeks to provide financial relief to energy consumers who are experiencing significant financial hardship and strives to provide this support to households regardless of the fuel or payment method used. That is, the project is inclusive of: users of prepayment meters, district heating networks and unregulated fuels.
In order to be eligible for funding, it must be evidenced that the applicant has received either energy and / or debt advice.
This should be supplied by trusted referral partners who are making applications on behalf of individuals.
Individuals who are making applications through the ‘Household Application’ route should evidence they have received energy and / or money advice from an accredited agency.
Due to the nature of the fund, applicants cannot be disconnected from their energy source already. If this is the case, the applicant should be redirected to a more appropriate funding source, such as the Fuel Bank Foundation.
List of partners who can make referrals to Home Heating Fund https://homeheatingadvice.scot/partnershipdirectory/
Vouchers for Pre-payment meters
Vouchers for pre-payment meters can be obtained from the Fuel Bank Foundation – but you MUST make the application via one of their partners. Info below
Fuel Bank Foundation https://www.fuelbankfoundation.org/
“GETTING YOUR VOUCHER
Fuel Bank Foundation is here to help you if you have been
referred to a Fuel Bank partner, have a prepayment meter for
gas and/or electricity and are struggling to top up your meter.”
Fuel Bank Foundation issue vouchers for pre-payment meters. You need to be referred to Fuel Bank Foundation by one of their Fuel Bank partners who makes the application on your behalf. Contact one of the partners listed below.
- Edinburgh Food Project – Money Advice Service – 07956 300 121 can provide urgent support at their food banks (see http://edinburghfoodproject.org/access-the-money-advice-service/)
- Citizens Advice Edinburgh – 0131 510 5510 – have GP practice advisers, in-patient/court/ money/debt advisers and Energy Adviser ( www.citizensadviceedinburgh.org.uk).
- Home Energy Scotland 0808 808 2282 www.homeenergyscotland.org
Other partners of FBF include
Simon Community Scotland Energy Action Scotland Trussel Trust Changeworks
NE Edinburgh Foodbank Bethany Christian Trust Tollcross Community Trust (Edinburgh)
Full list of partners of the Fuel Bank Foundation https://www.fuelbankfoundation.org/our-partners/
More sources of grants for energy bills
You need to get money / debt advice before applying, info at above link. There are two grants available, one open to users of any supplier and the other for British Gas customers only.
More info on grants for energy at links below
- If a tenant in social housing with a housing association you may be able to get help: You should ask your housing officer what support your housing association offers, it can include a range of measures to help with energy costs, including top-up vouchers. Info in Scotland at this link
Advice on Energy supply problems
- Citizens Advice Edinburgh – 0131 510 5510 – have GP practice advisers (NE Edinburgh), in-patient/court/ money/debt advisers and Energy Adviser ( www.citizensadviceedinburgh.org.uk)
- Advice Shop Edinburgh – 0131 200 2360 (NB: have helpline advisers).
- Granton Information Centre, north Edinburgh – 0131 551 2459 (GP surgery advisers
- CHAI (Edinburgh) – 0131 442 2100 (school/GP + community advisers in SW Edinburgh) www.chaiedinburgh.org.uk
- Advice Direct Energy Scotland – 0800 196 8660 (see www. energyadvice.scot).
- Home Energy Scotland 0808 808 2282 www.homeenergyscotland.org
- Fuel Rights Handbook from Child Poverty Action Group content free online
- Changeworks www.changeworks.org.uk
- Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert on Energy Crisis
- List of sources advice / help compiled by Fuel Poverty Action Group
- Energy Action Scotland
While ECAP do not have specialist knowledge about fuel supply rights we are very happy to support people with this situation as with poverty problems in general – contact email@example.com for an appointment on a Tuesday (in Edinburgh).
ECAP encourages and is involved in collective resistance to the extortionate rise in fuel bills and the struggle for energy for all. Heating, lighting and energy for cooking should be a human right free for everyone.
Fuel Poverty Action is campaigning for Energy For All – “a universal, free band of energy to cover the basics like keeping warm and keeping the lights on. Energy For All would be funded by higher prices for people using more energy than they need, windfall taxes, and an end to fossil fuel subsidies. “
“Fuel Poverty Action campaigns to protect people from fuel poverty. We challenge rip-off energy companies and unfair policies that leave people to endure cold homes. We take action for warm, well-insulated homes and clean and affordable energy, under the control of people and communities, not private companies.
We’re a group of ordinary people fed up with being robbed by greedy energy companies through spiralling bills, and rip-off prepayment meters.
Alongside pensioners groups, disabled campaigners, and others on the frontline of fuel poverty, we’re using protest and direct action to fight for real solutions to the cold homes crisis.
At Fuel Poverty Action we are doing all we can to support people fighting for warmer homes and lower bills. If you’re struggling to heat your home or pay your bill, get in touch and we will try our best to help.
We know that bringing down the bills goes hand in hand with fighting climate change, which is already causing flooding and extreme weather in the UK and across the world. We seek alternatives to expensive and polluting forms of energy like oil and gas that will bring down the bills for good. We want warm, insulated homes and cleaner and cheaper renewable energy, generated from the sun, the wind, and the waves.
We believe in people power and we are fighting for an energy system that is run for and by the people. We think that together, we can win this. Agree? Then get involved.”
email firstname.lastname@example.org You can join their email list.
There is an active group in Edinburgh. See this report on ECAP facebook of action at the Scottish Parliament.
Don’t Pay UK
Don’t Pay write:
“Don’t Pay is a grassroots campaign opposing the rise in energy bills. We demand:
an immediate reversal of the price hikes
an end to the enforcement of prepayment meters
and a social energy tariff – so no one goes cold this winter
It’s up to all of us. Let’s build the strike in our local communities and #TakeBackPower.”
See https://dontpay.uk/ where you can also find links to Don’t Pay social media
Don’t Pay describe how people can organise an energy bills strike:
It’s simple: we’re demanding a reduction of energy bills to an affordable level. Our leverage is mass non-payment – millions of people saying they won’t pay if the government doesn’t step in.
It isn’t a new idea. More than 17 million people refused to pay the Poll Tax in the 1980/90s, forcing the government to abandon the tax. We can do it again.
Now, we’re facing a social catastrophe and have no option other than to act. While energy companies are set to rake in £170 billion in profit in the next two years, we’re paying 96% more than we did last winter.
2 million of us already can’t pay, 7 million are struggling to keep up and we know millions more won’t pay. By pledging to strike, we can bring together everyone who can’t and everyone who won’t pay to fight back as one.”
There are people organising in Don’t Pay throughout the UK, including Edinburgh.
More on energy rights campaigns
Postpone the planned cuts to Government energy support
See also Section Two on Resisting pre-payment meters
This page on the Energy Crisis last updated 11 February 2023