In May 2022, the government announced a £400 discount to help households with rising energy bills through the winter. This was part of a £15bn government support package to tackle the cost of living crisis. While this was welcome, it was not clear whether or how this might include customers who do not have a direct relationship with their electricity supplier, for instance, people on communal or district heating systems (heat networks).
There are 153,000 housing association residents in England living in social housing on a heat network, many of whom would have missed out on the £400 reduction in bills because they do not have a domestic electricity meter or a direct relationship with an electricity supplier. The NHF, together with other stakeholders, have been raising this issue on behalf of our members with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) over the past few months.
BEIS has since confirmed that the £400 energy bills support will be made available for residents without a direct relationship with their supplier, including those on heat networks, who have not been eligible for the initial phase of the Energy Bill Support Scheme.
The Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding online application portal launched on 27 February 2023. Customers will need to search GOV.UK for 'Apply for energy bill support if you do not get it automatically'. Eligible households will need to apply before 31 May 2023.
Once a customer has applied, their information will be verified by their local authority and they will be told about the progress of their application by email or letter within six weeks. If they are eligible, their council will arrange a one-off payment that does not need to be repaid.
A portal for the Alternative Fuel Payments Alternative Fund is also due to launch in March 2023. This will provide an additional £200 to households that use fuels other than gas to heat their homes and who do not have a direct relationship with their electricity supplier.
The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has provided the factsheet below to help your communications with residents and to ensure residents know how to access this funding.
During a webinar recorded 3 March 2023, Curtis Clough from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero explains how the portal for the EBSS (Alternative Funding) will provide £400 payments to customers who do not have a direct relationship with an energy supplier, including those on communal and district heating systems.Watch
The EBSS AF will provide a payment of £400 to around 900,000 households without a direct relationship to a domestic electricity supplier in England, Scotland, and Wales, to support them with their energy bill costs.
This support is equivalent to the support provided automatically to households through the Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS).
The scheme is now open to all eligible households across Great Britain until 31 May 2023.
Subject to applications meeting full requirements, households who will be able to receive support through the EBSS AF include:
Those who are eligible for the EBSS AF will need to submit a short online application via the government’s GOV.UK webpages.
This page can be found by searching 'Apply for energy bill support if you do not get it automatically' into the search bar on GOV.UK or an internet search engine.
For those without online access, the contact centre helpline can be reached on 0808 175 3287 where a representative will guide them through the application process.
Once customers have applied to receive support, their details will be shared with local authorities across England, Scotland and Wales, who will confirm eligibility and deliver the one-off, non-repayable support.
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 their local authority.
A single payment of £400 will be made directly into the applicant’s bank account.
The government will never provide any links to the online application portal, to counter any fraudulent links being inserted. As many of the eligible households will include vulnerable individuals, we believe it is important to adopt this approach to reduce their exposure to scams.
Please ensure that no links are provided in any of your electronic communications.