900,000 more households across England, Scotland and Wales will benefit from the Government’s £400 help with energy bills, as an online application portal opens today.
Households without a direct relationship to an electricity supplier, such as those living in park homes and care homes, can now apply via a secure online portal to receive the support as a one-off, non-repayable lump sum under the ‘alternative funding’ route of the government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS AF). For those without online access, a dedicated customer helpline is available to assist eligible customers.
The launch of applications follows months of close work with stakeholders across the country to deliver the Government’s help for households with the cost of living. The alternative funding route is the latest in a range of targeted measures which are covering around half of a typical household’s energy bills this winter.
To ensure people feel the benefit of this support as quickly as possible, the payment will be provided directly into people’s bank accounts. Over £7.2 billion has been provided so far 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 alternative funding route is designed to make sure the same level of support reaches those without a direct relationship to an electricity supplier. It’s also available for households who get their energy through a commercial contract or who are off-grid.
Ministers are today urging all eligible households to apply as soon as possible for their support, whilst also warning households to stay alert to potential scams and report them to relevant authorities where they are suspected.
The government will never provide any links to the application portal, or directly ask individuals to apply for the £400 support. Those that require additional help when applying for support may wish to seek assistance from a family member or trusted friend.
Minister at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, Amanda Solloway, said:
“We understand the pressure households are under which is why we’ve already stepped in to pay around half of people’s energy bills this winter, and from today, thousands more will be able to apply securely for their £400.
“Today I’m urging everyone who couldn’t get their EBSS discounts in the regular way to apply via our secure channels. If you don’t have a direct contract with an electricity supplier, it’s essential you submit your application as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the sooner help can get to you.”
The launch of the 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 customers have applied to receive energy support and their applications have been processed and verified, eligible customers’ details will be shared with Local Authorities across England, Scotland and Wales, who will deliver the support in one lump sum. 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 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.
Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps will shortly write to local authorities, thanking them for getting the scheme over the line after working hand in hand with his department over the last three months, and urging them to process applications as quickly as possible so households aren’t left waiting weeks after applying.
He’ll also say there must be no further delays to rolling out the Alternative Fuel Payment Alternative Fund – a similar scheme for households who use alternative fuels as their main source of heating, providing £200 towards energy costs, adding it will be live by 6th March.
This will help people who use alternative energy sources such as heating oil, biomass and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to heat their homes, but who were unable to receive the government’s £200 Alternative Fuel Payment automatically via their electricity supplier. Of nearly 2 million people who use these sources as the main means to heat their homes, around 15% will need to apply through a similar GOV.UK portal which will shortly open to applications.
These schemes are the latest part of a range of targeted measures to help households across the country with the cost of living, which are covering around half of a typical household’s typical energy bills this winter.
In addition to the £400 of total support provided through the EBSS, the government’s Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) is saving a typical UK household £900 over this winter by reducing the unit cost of electricity and gas. Together, the support provided through the EPG and EBSS cover around half of a typical household’s energy bills. The 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 in the face of energy prices that are forecast to remain high. 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.