Back in February, Ofgem announced that they are raising the fuel price cap that energy suppliers are allowed to charge customers by 54%, starting from Friday 1 April. This record increase will mean that on average people’s yearly energy bills will go up by a staggering £693. As a result, worry has surfaced about how this will affect the general population. With more pressure placed on the cost-of-living crisis, this increase will undoubtedly have a stark effect on the 3.16 million people already experiencing fuel poverty.
So, what is the government doing to help?
In response, the government announced a few policies intended to help people, they include:
- All households would receive £200 off their energy bills in October – but then pay the discount back by £40 a year over five years from 2023
- Council taxpayers in England in bands A to D would receive a rebate of £150 from their bills in April, which will not have to be paid back.
- Local authorities would receive £150m to make discretionary payments to the neediest.
- The number of poorer households eligible for the warm homes discount – worth £150 from October – would be increased by a third to 3 million.
However, the government’s measures so far have been criticised by civil society groups and fuel poverty charities. Many argue that these measures merely “cushion the blow”, as they will not be enough to stop an increase in households from being dragged under the fuel poverty belt, and certainly not enough for people who are already behind or struggle to pay their energy bills.
Of course, when a crisis like this arises, charities will always be there to support those in need. But do they have the resources collectively to deal with the extent of the problem without the government doing more?
How are grant-making charities helping?
Grant-making charities are prolific in their ability to support individuals in need, yet they are often forgotten about or even overlooked. As an established and important source of support for individuals in need, grants are available to help with a wide variety of needs, as long as it is not something that replaces statutory funding. This includes things such as bills and living expenses, fuel, debt etc., but also other areas where people experience hardship like paying for school uniforms or having the money to travel to work.
As well as grants of money, some charities will help to pay for services such as meals on wheels or provide vouchers that can be redeemed in exchange for goods. Some will even directly provide in-kind gifts like microwaves or will purchase them directly from the store for the individual.
Lots of help is available and individuals who find themselves in need of support should be encouraged to utilise grant-making charities. Similarly, organisations that offer advice should list grant-making charities in their resources and include them in conversation with their beneficiaries.
Some examples of grant-makers that can help
As the cost of living continues to rise, many more people will likely find themselves in need of support with bills and fuel costs. There are thousands of grant-makers with different specialisms and criteria, but we’ve listed some of the more general grant-making charities here:
- British Gas Energy Trust provides grants to households in need, no matter which energy company they are with. It’s worth noting that many utility suppliers have funds or independent trusts to help their customers, so it is always worth checking what is available to you.
- Friends of the Elderly provides support to older people living on lower incomes. Funding is available towards utility bills, household essentials, funeral costs, essential living costs and more. Please note this fund requires the individual to apply through a referral agent such as housing associations, charities, social workers and so on.
- The Smallwood Trust makes grants for women in need in the UK. Support can be given towards housing-related debts such as rent or mortgage arrears, council tax arrears, utility arrears (e.g. gas, electric, water) and heating fuel.
- National Benevolent Charity supports people in need living in the UK by providing financial assistance towards utility bills, white goods (e.g. fridges, washing machines), household goods (e.g. bedding, kitchen equipment), clothing, baby equipment, food, cost of training and so on. Please note, due to a high volume of applications, the trust has suspended its applications until the end of March.
- Young Lives vs Cancer provides financial support to families of young people with cancer for a range of needs including increasing household bills and essential items, food, travel to hospital and so on. The charity has also been providing grants through its Winter Emergency Grant scheme in response to the cost-of-living crisis. This scheme offers emergency payments towards the costs of energy bills, heating costs, clothes and so on.
Although grant-making charities aren’t always easy to apply to, they can provide more direct support to beneficiaries. To help you help others, we’ve put them all in one place for you to easily access. The Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need 2022/23 has just been published and details over 1,800 grant-making charities giving over £373 million in funds. If you help individuals and families in need of emergency financial help, this publication is vital. Click here to buy your copy today.
Want to know what charities are doing to help those affected by the cost-of-living crunch? In our next Insights Talk on Wednesday, 6 April we’ll be discussing just this. Click here to join us, it’s free!