The following details may help you get support with rising energy prices
National and local government are providing support to many vulnerable households in response to rising energy costs. Support is already available for households in receipt of benefits, pensioners, vulnerable families and others. The most up to date advice on what is available can be found at www.gov.uk
Kent County Council has two energy voucher schemes funded by the UK Government’s Household Support Fund. Please note these end on March 31st.
Scheme 1) For individuals to make self-referrals.
If you or someone you know is struggling to pay energy bills, please check the eligibility criteria by clicking on the link below to see whether you can make an online application. A £100 energy voucher can be provided to eligible Kent residents who are struggling to afford household energy bills.
For further details and eligibility criteria please click the following link: Household Support Fund - Kent County Council
Scheme 2) For professionals to make applications on behalf of people they are supporting.
KCC has set up a scheme for professionals to refer people into. If individuals do not meet the eligibility criteria within the self-referral scheme above, you are able to make an application on their behalf and provide supporting information within the additional comments box at the end of the online form. It is appreciated that a number of people are experiencing financial hardship within the current cost of living crisis, and professionals can provide a supporting statement as to why the person requires support. Professionals may also be supporting people that are unable to make an application themselves.
£100 energy vouchers are currently available to Kent residents (excludes Medway, Bexley or Bromley) subject to eligibility.
For further details and eligibility criteria please visit this webpage.
If you are struggling to heat your home this winter, please find a directory of local warm banks / spaces to find warmth, community and help.
Working Households Fund
Dartford Borough Council has introduced a new fund to support Dartford working households who are just above the benefit thresholds and who are struggling with the increased cost of living. A grant of £100 will be awarded to qualifying households.
The following eligibility criteria must be met to receive a Working Households Fund grant:
- The applicant/joint applicants must be liable for Council Tax in a property in bands A to D in the DBC area;
- The property must be their sole or main residence;
- The household annual income before tax and National Insurance for a single applicant must be below £31,447 (the average UK earnings) and for joint applicants, must be below £62,894. These figures exclude child benefit;
- The household must not have combined savings of more than £3,000 at the date of the application;
- The applicant/joint applicants must not be in receipt of housing benefit, Council Tax Reduction or be eligible for disability benefits, means tested benefits or be pensioners (all of these are eligible for other support).
The full Working Household Fund policy can be found here.
You will be asked to upload a copy of your payslip (for a joint application, payslips for both applicants are required) and a copy of your latest bank statement covering at least one month (if a joint application with separate bank accounts, both applicants will need to submit copy statements). You should have this information ready to upload when you apply.
If you think you are eligible and have your documents ready, the quickest way to apply is online by clicking here.
Energy Bill Discount Online Tool
A new online tool has been launched for the public to check if they are eligible for the discount on their energy bills. Eligible low-income and vulnerable households can get a £150 discount off their energy bills. All customers will receive a letter between this month and mid-January confirming their eligibility, and the payment will be made automatically through energy suppliers by March 2023. The Government has also announced the reopening of the Warm Home Discount scheme which will provide a discount of £150 off electricity bills for three million low-income households this winter. Most households will receive the discount automatically.
Big Community Switch
During these difficult and challenging times it’s even more important to save money on your energy bill.
Kent Energy Deal had been in operation since collective switching began in the UK in 2013. Kent Energy Deal was a partnership between several Kent Councils and IChoosr to help residents save money on their energy bills by using combined buying power to access highly competitive tariffs. Kent Energy Deal helped many people living in the Dartford Borough and other partner Kent Local Authorities who also ran the scheme to switch to a better tariff therefore saving money on their resident’s utility bills and frequently the tariff offered was a renewable electricity tariff too. The scheme was just one of the many offered to help residents and support the Council in its carbon reduction ambitions.
Due to the Energy crisis and the Price Caps the switching market in its entirety has been at a standstill, however IChoosr have continued to monitor the situation and talked with suppliers to stay aware of any price/market changes.
IChoosr now believe the time is right to offer the option of the Big Community Switch again and are offering the opportunity for residents to register on line to help residents save money on their energy bills by using combined buying power to access highly competitive tariffs. This means residents can benefit from the bargaining power of a large group.
Dartford Borough Council has formed a partnership with IChoosr to offer this service – participation is completely free with no obligation to switch.
You can register today through the Big Community Switch's Dartford webpage.
If you are a Council tenant, a tenant in the private sector or you have a mortgage, it’s important that you talk to your landlord or lender at the earliest opportunity if you think you will have difficulty paying your rent or mortgage.
You may be entitled to the following to help you with your housing costs:
Discretionary Housing Payments
Discretionary Housing Payments apply to both Council and private sector tenants. These can provide extra money to help with your housing costs on top of any benefit support you may already be receiving. To get a Discretionary Housing Payment, you will need to either already be receiving the old scheme Housing Benefit or the housing contribution element through Universal Credit. To access a Discretionary Housing Payment, please visit https://www.dartford.gov.uk/benefits/apply-discretionary-payments for further details.
Council Tax Reduction
Council Tax Reduction may be available of your household is on a low income. You could receive support towards some or all of your Council Tax bill. To find out more, please visit https://www.dartford.gov.uk/benefits/council-tax-reduction for further details.
Help with your utility bills
Most utility companies offer help if you are struggling with your bills, including payment plans. Most water companies also offer discounts for households on low incomes. Please speak to your provider to find out more.
Broadband and phone
If you are looking for ways to cut back on your spending, you could be eligible for cheaper broadband deals with social tariffs. Social tariffs for broadband are discounted deals offered by various broadband providers to support households on low income or in financial hardship.
Free School Meals
If your child is in Year 2 or below, they can get free school meals. Please speak to your school for more details.
If your child is below 19 years of age and in full-time education, they may be eligible for free school meals. Please refer to www.kent.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals for more details.
Visit our page for advice on managing income, debt and benefits.
Visit our food banks page here.
Money Advice Hub
Citizens Advice is supporting people in Kent who are struggling financially or need support to manage the rising cost of living through its new Money Advice Hub.
The service is completely free and confidential. People can access the service online by visiting www.kentmoneyadvicehub.com (with video call and webchat functions) or by calling the freephone number on 0800 808 5622 by phone from Monday – Friday between 8am – 8pm.
Help with your TV Licence
The Simple Payment Plan has been created to help those in financial difficulty.
Qualifying customers can choose from either a fortnightly or monthly payment plan that spreads the cost of a TV Licence over 12 months, this means you make smaller payments more frequently, helping you to better manage your finances.
TV Licensing accepts referrals to the Simple Payment Plan from not-for-profit organisations such as charities or your local authority money advice department. It cannot accept referrals from commercial organisations.
If you would like to speak to someone about your finances, you can contact your local authority debt advice team or there are many not-for-profit organisations offering free, confidential and independent advice. Any not-for-profit organisation providing this service can refer you to us to join the Simple Payment Plan. More information on the simple payment plan and how to access it can be found here.
There are other TV licence concessions, which you might be eligible for depending on your circumstances. There are concessions available for:
- People who are aged 75 or over and receive Pension Credit.
- People who are blind (severely sight impaired).
- People who live in qualifying residential care and are disabled or over 60 and retired.