Vouchers could help those of us forced to choose between heating and eating
Things are tough for all of us this winter with the end of the £20 UC uplift in October, and rising food and energy costs.
But if money gets so tight that we’re forced to choose between heating and eating then we may be able to get help from a Fuel Bank.
Fuel Banks work on the same idea as food banks and are aimed at those of us with prepayment energy meters in our homes.
One of the biggest problems with these meters is so-called ‘self-disconnection’ – when we can’t afford to keep them topped up.
Fuel Banks hand out fuel vouchers to those of us who qualify (each voucher is enough to top up a meter for around two weeks).
How am I referred to Fuel Banks?
First of all, we need to be getting support from a food bank and also facing a fuel crisis.
We should contact Citizens Advice, a social worker, GP or other support organisation who can refer us by giving us a food bank voucher.
When we’re picking up our groceries from the food bank, if it’s part of the Fuel Bank network we can fill out an application for a fuel voucher too. If we’re accepted, we’ll be given the fuel voucher alongside our food.
Many Trussell Trust food banks and other support agencies are also part of the scheme. See the list of groups that work with Fuel Banks here.
Other help with fuel bills
If we’re struggling to top up our prepayment meters or paying our energy bills, we should always make contact with our suppliers ASAP.
They can often adjust our payment or refer us on to other schemes and grants that could help.
But if our supplier goes bust, it’s important we remember that we won’t be left without gas or electricity.
We’ll be moved to a new supplier, who’ll get in touch with us. It’s a good idea to record our meter readings (take a photo or note it down with the date) to keep ourselves right. Same goes for our balance and the date of our last bill.
We’ll be placed on a tariff that might be more expensive but we can ask our new supplier if they have a cheaper deal (we’re not tied to the new supplier and can switch if we find a better offer).
One way we could save £100 a year (or more) is by taking our Future-Proof Finance Quiz. Plus, the Quids in! website has loads of tips on how to use less energy around the home.