UPDATE: 31st October
From today over 9,000 eligible households in Bosworth will receive a £300 cost of living support payment to help ease pressures this winter.
Please be cautious of scams - you do not need to apply nor enter your bank details at any point. If you’re eligible, you will receive this support payment automatically between 31st October and 19th November.
UPDATE: 25th September
If you’re entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment for winter 2023 to 2024, you will get an extra £150 or £300 paid with your normal payment from November 2023.
The full amount of Winter Fuel Payment (including the Pensioner Cost of Living Payment) you will get for winter 2023 to 2024 depends on when you were born and your circumstances during the qualifying dates.
You can get a Winter Fuel Payment for winter 2023 to 2024 if you were born before 25 September 1957.
UPDATE: 1st July
From 1 July 2023, households without a pre-payment meter no longer receive an Energy Price Guarantee discount on their gas and electricity bills.
This is because the Ofgem price cap is lower than the Energy Price Guarantee level, meaning households will pay rates capped by the price cap.
For the period of October to December 2023, the Ofgem price cap has been set at £1,834 for a typical household per year. This represented a further fall in the cost of mains gas and electricity from the previous period, which stood at £2.074 for the period of July to September 2023.
The Energy Price Guarantee will remain in place as a safety net until the end of March 2024 should energy prices increase above £3,000 per year.
UPDATE: 24th April
The first of the 2023/24 Cost of Living support payments totalling £900 will be received by most eligible households from tomorrow.
Three cost of living support payments will be made this year, £301 between April and May, £300 in the winter and £299 in Spring 2024.
If you are a recipient of Universal Credit, Income-based JSA, Income-based ESA, Income Support and / or Pension Credit you will receive your payment automatically between 25 April and 17 May 2023.
People on tax credits and no other low income benefits can expect to receive the first of three payments between 2 May and 9 May 2023.
UPDATE: 21st March
Times are still tough, particularly for those most vulnerable, so I’m pleased the Government is continuing to support people and families across our community.
Check what financial support you are eligible for here: https://www.gov.uk/check-benefits-financial-support
UPDATE: 7th February
I asked the Employment Minister, Guy Opperman MP, about how the Government is ensuring that the most vulnerable in our community are supported with cost of living pressures.
Watch our interaction here: How is the Government supporting the most vulnerable, asks local MP | Dr Luke Evans MP
UPDATE: 27th January
British Gas have provided the below information on additional commitments they've made for prepayment customers:
- £10 million credit support fund: non-repayable prepayment meter credit up to £250 on for those struggling with energy costs. British Gas will identify those who would most benefit for this and there is no need for customers to apply.
- Extra vulnerability checks: enhanced processes around assessing and identifying vulnerabilities to ensure support is targeted where it is needed, and self-disconnections are identified.
- No remote switches: a commitment to not remotely switch customers to prepayment meters this winter unless the customer requests it.
- Smart prepayment meters: Ensuring those who are struggling with energy costs have smart prepayment meters to make sure any issues are identified quickly, and support provided.
They have specified that customers will not need to contact British Gas to apply.
Further infromation can be found here: British Gas Energy Support Fund
UPDATE: 13th January
You may have seen that wholesale gas prices have reduced and even dropped back to levels not seen since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine last February, which spiked energy costs throughout 2022.
A briefing from EnergyUK - the trade association for the energy industry - explains why these wholesale reductions will not immediately lead to lower energy bills for households and non-domestic users. Below are some key points, and I’ve attached the full briefing to this page (you may have to scroll to the bottom to read the pdf).
“To protect households and businesses from market volatility, energy companies ‘hedge’ by buying gas and electricity in advance of when it is needed. Hedging and the price cap introduce a time lag between shifts in the wholesale market and what consumers pay.
“There is still a lot of uncertainty and volatility, making it hard to know what will happen to energy prices in 2023.
“For the first half of 2023, savings from falling wholesale energy costs will be felt by the Government, not billpayers.
“The price cap limits how much suppliers can charge domestic customers on a Standard Variable Tariff. It is set by assessing the costs suppliers face, including the wholesale price of the energy they buy. The wholesale cost of energy allowed in the price cap is based on the market cost of electricity in the months prior to the period the price cap applies to. This means that what consumers are paying for electricity and gas today is partly determined by wholesale prices in the autumn. There is, therefore, a time lag between changes in wholesale prices and changes in retail costs.
“In January 2023, the price cap is the annual equivalent of £4,279 for a typical household, but £1,779 will be paid by the Government because of the Energy Price Guarantee which limits typical bills to £2,500. Additionally, households are receiving £400 between October 2022 and March 2023.
“Why is there uncertainty about bills falling? There are several sources of uncertainty and causes to think that prices will not fall significantly in the short-term:
- We are not in a period of steadily falling wholesale prices. Rather, tight supply conditions are causing prices to swing wildly according to external events. For example, wholesale gas prices more than doubled then halved again over the [last] two months of 2022.
- No one knows what will happen this year, we are in turbulent economic and geopolitical times, creating uncertainty about how much gas and electricity will cost in the coming months and years.
- Significant quantities of Russian gas was still flowing to Europe until the closure of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in August 2022 – six months after the invasion. This meant Europe could still fill its storage for this winter partly using Russian gas. That will not be possible in summer 2023, meaning it may be harder to find gas for next winter.
- After an initial period of disruption, the end of the 'Zero Covid' policy in China is expected to lead to a significant increase in economic activity. In turn, this will increase demand for gas in China – raising prices and making it harder for the UK and Europe to attract LNG shipments.”
UPDATE: 10th January
Today the Treasury announced a UK-wide Energy Bills Discount Scheme – a new energy support scheme that will provide all eligible UK businesses and other non-domestic energy users with a discount on high energy bills until 31 March 2024, following the end of the current scheme, the Energy Bill Relief Scheme.
This further support follows the government’s unprecedented package for non-domestic users through this winter through the current scheme, worth an estimated £18 billion.
Through the scheme, from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024, eligible non-domestic customers who have a contract with a licensed energy supplier will see a unit discount of up to £6.97/MWh automatically applied to their gas bill and a unit discount of up to £19.61/MWh applied to their electricity bill. The relative discount will be applied if wholesale prices are above a price threshold of £302/MWh for electricity and £107/MWh for gas.
A substantially higher level of support will be provided to businesses in sectors identified as being the most energy and trade intensive.
UPDATE: 5th January
Vulnerable households across Bosworth, including those in receipt of Universal Credit, Income Support, Pension Credit and more, will receive a further £900 as part of the Government’s work to support people through the cost of living increases.
The £900 will be split into three payments over the course of the financial year. Exact payment windows will be announced closer to the time but are spread across a longer period to ensure support is consistent. They will be broadly as follows:
£301 – First Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2023
£300 – Second Cost of Living Payment – during Autumn 2023
£299 – Third Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2024
People claiming certain disability benefits and pensioners will receive a one-off payment:
£150 – Disability Payment – during Summer 2023
£300 – Pensioner Payment – during Winter 2023/4
More information on the help available for households to assist with cost of living pressures can be found here: Cost of Living Payment - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Also announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on November 17th:
- Commitment to the Triple Lock, meaning pensions with increase in line with inflation.
- 10.1% increase for people in receipt of Pension Credit, worth up to £1,470 for a couple and £960 for a single pensioner.
- Uprating benefits in line with inflation for 10 million working-age families, costing around £11 billion.
- Largest ever increase in the National Living Wage, bringing it to £10.42 an hour.
- £1 billion year-long extension of the Household Support Fund in England and associated devolved nations.
This is in addition to the 2022 support package, which included:
- £650 for over 8 million of the most vulnerable households
- £300 support payment for pensioners
- £150 for over six million disabled people
- £150 Council Tax rebate for all households in bands A-D
- £400 energy bill grant for all households
- Cap on wholesale gas and electricity prices for households and non-domestic users (businesses, schools, hospitals etc) to reduce soaring costs.
Finally, and importantly, please be cautious of scams. You do not need to apply for any of this support and you will not be asked for your bank details at any point.
Forward any suspicious emails to email@example.com or forward the text to 7726 (for free).
If you believe you have been the victim of an online scam or fraud, please call 0300 123 2040.
UPDATE: 8th November 2022
Today I have welcomed news that the second cost of living support payment, worth £324 to over 9,000 people and families across Bosworth, will be made between today and the end of the month.
Read more about this targeted support, worth up to £1200 for nearly 8 million of the most vulnerable households, here: Dr Luke Evans MP welcomes second cost of living support payment for 9,100 people and families in Bosworth | Dr Luke Evans MP
UPDATE: 24nd October 2022
The Government have created a 'Help for Households' website which signposts to the different support available, for anything from energy costs to childcare and transport.
Visit the page via this link: Help for Households - Get government cost of living support
UPDATE: 1st October 2022
Today the cap on standing charges and unit prices for electricity and gas came into force, for both households and non-domestic users such as businesses, charities, schools and hospitals.
We can all save money on our bills by taking sensible steps to reduce energy consumption where possible (i.e. the more you use, the more you pay). The caps are as follows:
Domestic users (in the East Midlands assuming payment is made via a direct debit):
- For Gas:
- Unit rate: 10.24 per kWh
- Standing charge: 28.49p per day
- For Electricity:
- Unit rate: 33.02p per kWh
- Standing charge: 45.77p per day
(Source for the above, please note that caps vary slightly for each region: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/what-are-the-price-cap-unit-rates-/ )
- For gas: £75 per megawatt hour (MWh)
- For electricity: £211 per MWh
This is in addition to the £400 which will be credited to household energy accounts over the course of the next six months (starting this month), averaging at £66 per month. People on prepayment meters should keep an eye out for discount cards which will be arriving each month.
Finally, and importantly, please be cautious of scams. You do not need to apply for either the Energy Bills Support Scheme (the £400) or the Energy Price Guarantee (which implements the cap) and you will not be asked for your bank details at any point.
Please forward any suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE: 23rd September 2022
Today the Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, outlined this Government’s plan for growth. Here are some of my key takeaways for people and businesses in Bosworth:
- Caps on gas and electricity unit prices, £400 for every household and up to £1200 for the most vulnerable.
- From today you won’t pay stamp duty on the first £250,000 when you buy a house (up from £125,000) which will help people in Bosworth onto the housing ladder and, in time, for retirees to downsize to.
- Launching 38 Investment Zones across England, including in Charnwood, Coventry and Leicestershire County Council to help regional growth – I will be following this up.
- Allowing companies to invest tax free up to £1 million on the likes of machinery to encourage growth.
One important side note is that there is already a windfall tax in place. In May, via the Energy Profits Levy, taxes on profits made by energy companies extracting gas and oil in the UK increased from 40% to 65%.
There was much more announced, read the full details here: The Growth Plan 2022 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
UPDATE: 8th September 2022
Today the Prime Minister set out immediate plans to assist people in Bosworth and across the nation with household energy bills
- The Energy Price Guarantee places a cap on unit rates and standing charges for domestic electricity and gas prices, starting in October.
- Businesses will be offered an equivalent guarantee for six months, and after six months further support will be provided for vulnerable sectors.
- The Government will continue to invest in homegrown energy to ensure we have the long term energy supply and security that our nation needs.
- The cap on standing charges and unit rates means we can all save money on our bills by taking sensible steps to reduce energy use where possible.
- As previously announced, lower income homes can access further help with energy efficiency measures under the Government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO4).
This is in addition to the support announced in May:
- Most households to receive £550 in support (£400 energy relief over 6 months starting in October for everyone, plus a £150 Council Tax rebate for houses in bands A-D)
- Nearly 8 million of the most vulnerable households to receive at least £1,200
- Pensioners to receive £850 in support
For more information, please visit this link: Government announces Energy Price Guarantee for families and businesses while urgently taking action to reform broken energy market - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
UPDATE: 23rd June 2022
This Minister for Climate Change and Corporate Responsibility, Lord Callanan, has today set out the Energy Company Obligation scheme which places an obligation on the larger energy suppliers to install energy efficiency and heating measures to people’s homes.
Lord Callanan said: "ECO4 [the latest iteration of this scheme] will support around 450,000 homes and is expected to save on average £290 a year for the most vulnerable with up to £1,600 for those living in the least energy efficient homes. However, those savings could average £600 this winter. The passing of these regulations will bring legislative certainty to suppliers and the supply chain, enabling them to ramp up delivery with confidence before winter.
"Since 2013, the Energy Company Obligation scheme has installed around 3.5 million energy efficiency measures in 2.4 million homes across Great Britain. Around nine per cent of all households in Great Britain had a measure installed under ECO up to the end of quarter 1 2022."
UPDATE: 26th May 2022
I am really pleased to see, after writing to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and speaking to him in private about this issue, that the triple lock will apply to the state pension.
Many people in Bosworth and across the country were worried about what it meant for them when the triple lock was suspended, so this was an important and necessary update from the Chancellor's recent announcement.
I was also happy to hear the Chancellor has announced plans which will help the whole country with increases in the cost of living.
The £37 billion package will be bolstered by support from oil and gas companies who will be 90% better off when they reinvest for our future - this helps with our energy security, net zero commitments and, importantly, affordability.
It was right that the Government waited until we had the full picture of what the energy price cap would increase to in the Autumn before announcing the following measures...
- Most households to receive £550 in support
- Nearly 8 million of the most vulnerable houses to receive at least £1,200
- Pensioners to receive £850 in support
Relief for energy bills has also been doubled, from £200 to £400 for every household and will not need to be repaid. The £400 will be credited directly to energy accounts starting in October 2022.
You can watch the full announcement here: Parliamentlive.tv - House of Commons.
Read about the Government's assistance here: Cost of Living Support - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Find out what help you are eligible for here: Cost of Living Payment - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
UPDATE: 1st April 2022
People in Bosworth have, quite rightly, asked me what the Government is doing to help with the escalating cost of living, and it is something which I am very conscious of, and regularly working on. Although we are fortunate to be an area with high local employment, there are families across the community who will undoubtedly struggle in the months ahead with rising costs seen across the globe, and an elderly population who should not be forgotten.
My team and I continue to assist constituents where we can through casework, much of this inflation is being driven by the rising cost of energy due to increased demand worldwide – and that feeds through into pressures on the cost of living. I completely understand constituent anxiety over rising prices and inflation.
My work down in Westminster
Please click here to read more about the work I have done in calling for extra support for cost of living pressures: My work on the cost of living | Dr Luke Evans MP
Government work in this area
Since the start of the pandemic, the Government has announced a £400 billion package of support to protect jobs and income. The economy is in recovery, with a record number of people on the payroll, with recent ONS statistics showing the UK's GDP grew by 1.3% in Quarter 4 of 2021.
Although Government intervention can be limited with the global rising costs of energy, I am pleased the UK Government have acted and implemented a £9 billion package of support to help 28 million households with the cost of living:
You can find out more above the above provisions here: Government support for energy bills and the cost of living - factsheets - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Increased the National Living Wage by 6.6%, meaning an extra £1000 a year for a full-time worker
- Announced a non-repayable £150 cash rebate for homes in Council Tax bands A-D – equivalent to 80 per cent of all households, helping both lower and middle-income families
- Froze the licence fee at £159, halting an increase to £180
- Introduced a £1000 tax cut for nearly 2 million families, through the cut to the Universal Credit taper
- Cut fuel duty by 5p per litre for a full year
- Continued to freeze fuel duty for 12 consecutive years - this has saved the average driver over £1,900 compared to the pre-2010 escalator.
- Allocated £1 billion for helping those in need on bills and other essentials - In England, the fund will be distributed via upper-tier Local Authorities. At least a third of the £500 million extension funding (£140m) will be spent on pensioners on low incomes and at least another third (£140m) will be spent on families with children.
- Announced £144 million of discretionary funding for local authorities to support households not eligible for the council tax rebate
- Continued the Holiday Activity and Food Program for children on Free School Meals with £200 million
- Retained the Energy Price Cap, helping 15 million households
- After asking a Parliamentary question regarding support for vulnerable individuals struggling with the cost of energy bills, I welcomed the news that the Warm Homes Discount will be increased and eligibility extended by one-third to 3 million vulnerable households (worth £150). You can read the full Ministerial response here: Written questions and answers - Written questions, answers and statements - UK Parliament; Find out more here: Warm Home Discount Scheme - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Since 2011, over £3 billion in direct support has been provided to low-income and vulnerable households under the Warm Home Discount scheme
- A £200 ‘smoothing’ rebate on energy bills for all households from their supplier
- Delivered Cold Weather Payments of an extra £25 per week to vulnerable households in exceptionally cold weather: Cold Weather Payment - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Pledged £3 billion over this Parliament to help more than half a million lower income homes become more energy efficient, saving households on average £290 per year
- Winter Fuel Payments are the largest benefit paid to pensioners, and will continue to be available to all pensioners: Winter Fuel Payment: Eligibility - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
On the 23rd March, The Chancellor announced his annual Spring Statement setting out further support the Government is putting in place during these difficult times. I note this was not a full budget, which will be announced in the Autumn.
The Chancellor unveiled a new Tax Plan to ease the rising cost of living and to deliver the biggest cut to personal taxes in a quarter of a century:
- Cutting fuel duty by 5p for 12 months – a £5 billion tax cut and largest fuel duty cut ever.
- Cutting National Insurance now – a £6 billion tax cut for 30 million working people across the UK from July, worth over £330 a year – 70 per cent of people will pay less tax even after the levy.
- Cutting the basic rate of Income Tax to 19p from 2024 – the first income tax cut for 16 years, a £5 billion tax cut for over 30 million workers, savers and pensioners.
- Cutting business employment taxes now by raising the Employment Allowance to £5,000 – a tax cut for half a million small businesses worth up to £1,000 per business.
- Cutting VAT on energy saving materials like solar – a tax cut only possible because of Brexit.
- Doubling the Household Support Fund to £1 billion for councils to support the most vulnerable.
- Creating the conditions for private sector-led growth – through Autumn Budget tax cuts on business capital investment and R&D.
- Building on our over £9 billion package of support to help households with £350 to address rising energy costs.
You can find out more here: Chancellor announces tax cuts to support families with cost of living - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
UPDATE: 10th December 2021
On a purely personal level, I understand concerns around energy costs for pensioners and the most at-risk individuals when it comes to fuel poverty. From my conversations in Westminster, I also understand this has been reflected by many, whether parliamentary colleagues or Ministers.
Global gas prices are high due to various factors, including an increase in demand following the end of lockdowns in various countries and in return economies reopening; a cold winter in the UK; high demand in Asia for liquified natural gas (LNG) transported globally by freight which has meant that far less LNG has reached Europe; and weather events in the US limiting supply to Europe. With reduced variety of supply globally and much higher than anticipated demand, high wholesale gas prices have subsequently driven an increase in wholesale power prices, with a few short-term markets trading at, or near, record levels.
As a final note, customers may be able to reduce their energy bills by shopping around for a better deal. Changing energy provider has never been easier, either online or over the phone, with comparison sites providing useful information on the best deals. Almost 500,000 energy customers switched to a new supplier each month in 2020, according to Energy UK.
Useful links to help with energy bills this Winter:
- Citizens Advice has published useful guidance on switching energy suppliers online: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-a-better-energy-deal/switching-energy-supplier/
- Energy UK’s brief on the actions the energy industry is taking to support customers: Energy sector offers helping hand | Energy UK (energy-uk.org.uk)
- NEA provide a free support service on energy bills, benefits advice and income maximisation: WASH Advice - NEA
- Simply Energy provide impartial and independent advice on heating your home: Simple Energy Advice
- EDF Warm Home discount: https://www.edfenergy.com/for-home/help-support/warm-home-discount
- Leicestershire County Council also have a Warm Homes Fund: https://www.leicestershire.gov.uk/health-and-wellbeing/seasonal-health/leicestershire-warm-homes-fund
Home Energy Improvements
As part of the Clean Growth Strategy to make as many homes as possible reach EPC Band C or above, there are grants and support available for home energy improvements such as cavity wall and loft insultation.
- Find national and local energy grants here: Find energy grants and ways to save energy in your home - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Hinckley and Rugby Building Society provides funding for customers to carry out green home improvements: Green mortgages | Hinckley & Rugby Building Society (hrbs.co.uk)
- As part of the Smart Energy GB campaign, you can request a free Smart Meter from your energy supplier to measure and display how much gas/electricity is being used in the home, to reduce energy waste and save money.
- Under the Government’s Energy Company Obligation, energy suppliers fund the installation of energy efficiency measures in households: Energy Company Obligation (ECO) - Support for improving your home | Ofgem
- The Energy Company Obligation follows previous supplier obligations and was introduced in 2013. It obliges energy suppliers above a certain size to reduce home heating costs through the installation of energy efficiency and heating measures. The scheme, ECO4, is focused on households who are low income and vulnerable, or at risk of fuel poverty, living in inefficient Energy Performance Certificate Band D-G homes, with a greater focus on insulation, making greater improvements to the least energy efficient homes.
- Which? guide to the Energy Companies Obligation: Energy Company Obligation (ECO) - Which?