Salford Citizens Advice:
How to respond to the current energy crisis:
With now more than a dozen energy supply companies having gone bust and the very real expectation that gas (and soon to follow electricity) costs are set to rise by over 30% over the winter, representing something like an increase of £400 to £600 a year to typical households, it’s fair to say that we face a very challenging winter.
Here are the headlines of some of the things you should do, as well as what not to do!
Your energy supplier goes bankrupt:
Don’t worry, the regulator will arrange to move you to a new supplier, and your credit balance should be transferred. The new supply will be at a special cost arranged by the regulator, and though probably more expensive than your current package, it will almost certainly be better than you could have found for yourself.
Probably not a good idea to try to change supplier at the moment:
Because you may have fixed before the sudden jump in gas costs, this rate is likely to be lower than any you can find currently. If you are on a variable rate, then the protection given by the ‘energy price cap’ means you are still paying less than the market is currently offering.
The energy price cap:
This limits the costs of fuel that can be charged to people not on specific contracts or when their contract has come to an end – the variable rate. Because the increase in costs has been much higher than the time it takes this cap to change, it means this is protecting customers on variable rates from rises, for the moment.
The energy cap is going to rise:
The energy cap is reviewed throughout the year to allow for changes in world gas costs, which means when it is next reviewed, it is likely to rise, meaning those people who are benefiting from it now will also start to pay more for their fuel. This is likely to be in early in the next year.
The warm Homes Scheme:
This scheme helps some low-income households with the costs of the electricity and is open at the moment. See our earlier advice column, on our website.
The energy saving trust has lots of advice on how to save energy – which will help a little in reducing your costs. www.energysavingtrust.org.uk.
Urgent Help from the council:
Salford Assist is the council’s emergency support fund – and the government is promising local councils extra money this winter to help with the cuts to Universal Credit. If your situation has become very urgent then speak to them and see if they can help you. www.salford.gov.uk.