STRUGGLING households have just realised they can get free appliances worth up to £400 from their energy supplier.
Gas and electricity bills are set to rise even further next month but help is available for struggling families.
The government has announced several financial support programmes for struggling households and vulnerable people, but many will still be feeling the squeeze.
And some energy companies are offering customers free white goods if they meet certain criteria.
Utilita is offering customers who receive the Warm Home Discount appliances worth up to £400.
The Warm Home Discount is available to those on the lowest incomes to help with rising costs.
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Eligible households can apply for goods including fridges, freezers and washing machines, to replace old and inefficient appliances.
One Utilita customer posted in the Extreme Couponing and Bargains UK Facebook group to say they had received an email about the scheme.
They wrote: "I got an email from my electricity supplier earlier today, you can apply for white goods for free.
"I'm not sure which companies are doing it as I'm with Utilita.
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"You can choose between a cooker (gas or electric) a washing machine and a fridge freezer."
How can I apply?
The scheme is open to Utilita customers who receive the Warm Home Discount.
The goods are available to around 5,500 customers.
Eligible households have been contacted directly by Utilita.
Each customer can apply for two appliances each and they are as follows:
- Washing machine
- Gas cooker
- Electric cooker
What is the Warm Home Discount?
The Warm Home Discount is an automatic £150 discount off energy bills, and payments began this month.
As it is a discount, no money is paid to you.
You'll need to be a recipient of one or more of the following benefits to qualify:
- Income support
- Income based jobseeker's allowance
- Income related employment and support allowance
- Housing benefit
- Universal credit
- Child tax credit
- Working tax credits
- Pension credit guaranteed
- Pension credit savings credit
If you weren't claiming any of the above benefits on August 21, 2022, you won't be eligible for the payment.
People living in England and Wales don't need to apply for the Warm Home Discount as of this year.
You get the payment automatically if your electricity supplier is part of the scheme and you qualify.
Though energy regulator Ofgem says some people may be asked to contact a Government helpline to confirm their eligibility.
The money won't be paid to you directly – it'll be added as credit to your electricity account.
This usually happens between October and April.
Visit the Government website for more information.
How can I get free white goods and appliances?
Household Support Fund (HSF)
Councils across the country are offering families free white goods to use in their homes.
The goods are being dished out as part of the government's Household Support Fund (HSF).
The HSF was launched in October 2021 to help Brits pay their way through winter amid a cost of living crisis.
In May the Government added an additional £500million to the fund.
It was also extended until March 2023 to help the country's vulnerable households.
Councils have been given a slice of the new funding on offer, which will be given out to struggling households to help them with the rising cost of bills and food.
The appliances being offered vary from council to council, with some offering air fryers as well as washing machines.
What you will receive will depend on your circumstances and will differ depending on what your local council is offering.
That means what you're entitled to will depend on where you live.
households on low incomes or benefits.
Typically, you will need to apply for the white goods through your council if it is offering them.
You'll need to check with your local council for details.
We've rounded up some of the councils offering white goods to local households and how to apply here.
There are also more than 3,000 charities giving cash to buy white goods.
To check what you’re entitled to, see the grant checker on the charity website Turn2Us.
Most charities and organisations require you to fill out an application form online or in person listing the reasons why you need help.
A response will then be sent to you with details on how you can claim the money needed.
Here are som examples of grants available:
Battle UK is a charity for children and young people and their families and carers.
Grants of up to £2,000 are available to help those dealing with issues including domestic abuse, estrangement, physical and mental health, and substance abuse.
Support packages include money for essential items including beds and cookers along with help for children’s emotional, social, and educational needs.
Family Fund offers families raising disabled or seriously ill children grants to pay for washing machines, bedding, and furniture.
Grants to buy white goods, bedding, and items for children and babies are also available from Glasspool for those in need.
What other energy bill help are suppliers offering?
British Gas Energy Trust Individuals and Family Fund
You do not need to be a British Gas customer to apply for this fund – you can be a British Gas customer or a customer from another supplier.
You could get a grant worth up to £1,500.
To be considered for a grant you must meet all the following criteria:
- You live in England, Scotland or Wales
- You have not received a grant from the British Gas Energy Trust within the last two years
- You must be seeking a grant to clear an outstanding debt on a current or open gas, electricity or dual fuel energy account in your name or be a member of that household. The energy account must relate to your main residence
- You have electric and/or gas debt
- You do not have savings above £1,000
- You have received help from a money advice agency
To support your application you'll need to provide evidence that you've received money advice in the last three months. You'll also need proof of your current household income.
British Gas customers will also need a recent meter reading – unless they're on a smart meter.
You can apply for the fund on the British Gas Energy Trust website.
British Gas Energy Support Fund
The fund is open to British Gas customers with an energy debt of £250 to £1500.
The debt must apply to your primary residence and must be an active energy account.
- Live in England, Scotland or Wales
- Have not received a grant from British Gas Energy Trust in the last 12 months
- Can have a credit or prepayment meter with a previous outstanding account debt
Please note: Proof of income will be required at the point of application (you will be asked to have this to hand before you apply), this will be considered alongside household outgoings to determine if you are in or at risk of fuel poverty.
You can apply for the fund on the British Gas Energy Trust website.
EDF Customer Support Fund
To get a cash grant from EDF you'll first have to register for its priority services.
Once you've done this and the firm has assessed your circumstances you'll be able to apply for an energy grant.
You'll need to have your EDF account number and current energy debt balances ready, along with details of your household finances and vulnerability.
You can apply for the fund on the EDF website.
E.ON and E.ON Next Grants
Customers of both E.ON and E.ON next can apply for cash grants to help with their energy costs.
E.ON doesn't have established eligibility criteria but the Fund aims to help as many people as possible and applications from individuals with the greatest needs will be prioritised.
In order to complete your application, you will need to know your energy account number and provide a recent meter reading.
Depending on your circumstances you'll be asked to provide the following items of evidence:
- Proof of all household income for yourself and anyone living with you for the current tax year.
- All pages from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) stating your entitlement to a benefit and the amounts due to be paid for the current tax year
- Pension letters for State or private pensions.
- Medical confirmation from the organisation that referred to you the fund or a medical DS1500 form or medical confirmation from a consultant or your doctor.
- Evidence of a budget sheet that was issued to you when you received professional money advice from the FCA-approved agency. The budget sheet must be dated within the last 4 weeks and be on company-headed paper.
You can apply for the fund on the E.ON website.
Octopus Energy Assist Fund
Octopus Energy offers a number of support options based on circumstances and needs, including access to existing schemes, monetary support from the firm's fund, or a loan of a thermal imagery camera to find heat leaks at home.
Octopus is encouraging all customers to get in contact if they're struggling with their bills.
You can find out how to apply for the fund on the Octopus Energy website.
Ovo Energy customers who are struggling as a result of rising energy prices can access a £50million customer support package.
The package includes a debt repayment holiday for prepayment meter customers and free energy saving products for customers' homes.
Direct debit customers have access to an online payment support tool, which can be accessed on the Ovo website.
It can help customers to assess the right plan for them.
Ovo said the most vulnerable customers may be able to have their direct debits reduced by up to 15%.
Customers who pay on receipt of bills can create a bespoke payment plan, lasting for 36 months.
It says this has been increased from 24 months to help ease the bill burden this winter.
Ovo has increased its emergency credit from £5 to £15 for prepayment customers.
It is also making sure that if customers are switched to a prepayment plan, they will receive regular check-ins to make sure they can get through the winter.
Prepayment customers will also be offered a payment holiday from debt repayment.
Customers will also be offered energy-saving products for customers’ homes, such as smart thermostats and electric throws – prioritised for those most in need.
You may also be able to claim a free boiler service worth £90, to ensure they are working efficiently this winter.
Customers can also get two free electric blankets per household and a free smart thermostat.
You can apply for the support online or via the app.
Customers will need to fill out a form answering questions about their income and medical needs.
You will need to provide details like your name, account number, address, date of birth.
You'll also need to state your annual household income, your monthly disposable income, medical needs, how many people you live with and if you receive any benefits.
The support is available now until March 31, 2023.
Scottish Power Hardship Fund
Customers could get up to £750 in grants from Scottish Power to help with their energy bills.
You could qualify for help from the Scottish Power Hardship Fund if you’re receiving
- Income Support,
- Job Seekers Allowance,
- Pension Credit, or
- Employment and Support Allowance
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If you think you're eligible for the cash grant you can apply online and should get a response within five working days.
You can apply for the fund on the Scottish Power website.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
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