You may be entitled to a free gas and electricity voucher if you are struggling to keep up with your energy bill payments and use a prepayment meter to top up your fuel.
With the recent energy price cap increase announced just last week millions of households across the country are going to face fuel poverty, especially as winter approaches.
Even worse is the fact that those on prepayment meters are already most likely to be at risk of fuel poverty and pay more than those on a standard energy tariff that pay via direct debit.
This means that come winter time, those on prepayment meters are likely to face difficult decisions and hardship when it comes to keeping up with their energy payments.
£49 Fuel Vouchers FAQ
Free Gas & Electricity Vouchers: Eligibility Criteria
If like many households you are concerned about your winter fuel bill, even though you will be in receipt of the UK government’s £400 energy rebate, it’s definitely going to be helpful to see if you could be eligible for a free gas and electricity voucher too.
Fuel Voucher Eligibility Criteria
In order to qualify for a free energy/fuel voucher you will need to receive a referral from a local specified organisation in your area. This commonly includes food banks, the local council or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
The important thing to note is that fuel voucher eligibility can be different depending where you reside in the UK.
Some areas only provide free fuel vouchers to those deemed vulnerable e.g. the elderly, those with children in their care or a specified health condition.
Additionally, like applying for benefits, other councils will only provide them to individuals who pass means testing. That means they will only provide a free fuel voucher to those who meet certain income and savings criteria.
In summary you will typically need to meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Be in receipt of income-related benefits.
- Have no cash savings.
- Have children under your care within the household.
- Have a certain disability.
- Be of pension age.
Important: In order to apply and be offered a free fuel voucher, you will need to top up your energy using a prepayment meter. They are not available to households that pay for their energy via direct debit.
How Much Are Fuel Vouchers?
The free fuel vouchers are typically for the amount of £49 or less and the exact amount will largely depend on your individual circumstances and your location.
You will also often notice that the amount provided changes depending on the season, for example, in winter this is usually the full amount, while in summer when heating demands are lower, a lesser amount will be offered.
It also varies depending on your local authority, for example, in Lancashire, the fuel voucher is for £30, while in Manchester the fuel vouchers are the full amount of £49 for families and £30 for single individuals.
How Do You Use The Fuel Voucher?
As the name implies fuel vouchers are vouchers and never provided in cash and are non-transferable.
Typically, the fuel voucher will be in the form of a code that can be sent to you via text, email or post.
In order to use the voucher, you will need to visit your local top up location and present your code, along with proof of address and a form of personal identification e.g. a passport or driving licence.
Fuel vouchers typically expire if not used within a certain timeframe, usually this is 12 weeks, but it’s always worth double checking.
The voucher can be used on either your gas or electricity, but bear in mind you will need to use the full value of the voucher at once and will not be able to split it up.
What Other Help Is Available?
If you find that you are not entitled to a free fuel voucher, the good news is that there is still help available and services there to support you and your family.
The first step to take for anyone falling into arrears and finding it hard to pay their energy bills is to contact your energy supplier at the earliest opportunity.
Energy suppliers can help you better manage your fuel payments and energy debts and have many options available to them, including:
- Reducing your energy bill payments.
- Placing you on a different tariff or prepayment meter plan.
- Putting you on a designated Priority Services Register, meaning that getting access to future financial support will be quicker and easier.
Lastly, don’t forget that the the £400 energy rebate will start in October, which will provide a much needed reduction for many households.
In addition, there is also a planned cost of living payment for vulnerable households, this will be for £650 and is due to be announced in the coming weeks.