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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Applying for emergency help with your energy costs

A new crisis fund has opened for people who are at risk of being cut off by their energy suppliers. The fund can help people who have almost run out of energy or who have received a bill that they cannot pay.

You can only apply for help if you meet

  • conditions about your income, and
  • conditions about your energy or fuel

You'll have to give evidence to show you meet these conditions when you apply.

Income conditions

You have to meet on of the following conditions

  • you have a gross annual income of less than £23,000, excluding DLA, PIP, Carer's Allowance and Attendance Allowance, or
  • you've lost your job in the last 8 weeks and you're waiting for your first benefits payment, or
  • your benefits payments have stopped or been suspended recently

Energy conditions

You have to meet one of the following energy conditions

  • have run out of fuel or
  • have 5 days of less of fuel remaining or
  • have received a gas or electricity bill in the last 5 days that you can't afford to pay
  • are expecting a gas or electricity bill in the next 5 days and can't afford to pay it

Amount of help you can get with energy bills

You can get one of the following

  • £100 top up on your electricity meter if you pay as you go
  • £100 credit on your electricity account if you pay by bill or direct debit
  • £98 top up on your gas meter if you pay as you go
  • £98 credit on your gas account if you pay by bill or direct debit
  • £100 credit with an oil supplier

You don't get a cash payment. Instead, the money will go directly to your energy or fuel supplier.

Applying for help with fuel bills

Apply for help online during working hours on Monday to Friday. The fund opens at 9:00am each day. But it often closes within minutes because it gets too many applications. There is a cap on how many people can apply each day.

Ask a friend, family member or an advice agency for help to complete the form if you can't do this.

Information to include with your application

You'll need to show how you meet the income and energy conditions.

You can show you meet the income conditions by providing

  • bank statements
  • payslips or your P60
  • benefits or pension statements
  • a letter from a former employer showing you've lost your job and proof you've applied for benefits
  • a letter or screenshot to show your benefits payments have been interrupted

You can show you meet the energy conditions by providing

  • a photo that shows your energy meter serial number and the amount of credit you have left
  • a photo showing the oil gauge on your oil tank
  • a copy of an energy bill due for payment

Make sure any photos show how much fuel or credit you have left.

After you apply

You'll get an email to say your application has been received. You'll get a text message within 24 hours to tell you if you'll get help or not.

If your application is successful, you'll get another text message. This will tell you

  • your top up code if you have applied for credit on a meter
  • that your account has been credited if you pay after you get a bill or by direct debit
  • how to get your oil if you applied for a delivery of oil

You only have 5 days to arrange your oil delivery. Follow the instructions on the text as soon as possible so you don't lose your oil credits.

Other help with energy costs

You will get an automatic payment of £200 to help with your energy costs if you were receiving any of the following benefits between 13 December 2021 and 19 December 2021

  • pension credit
  • universal credit
  • income-related employment and support allowance
  • income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • income support

This extra payment was announced on 13 January 2022 and should be made quickly.

You don't have to apply for this payment. It will be paid automatically in the same way that your benefits are paid. You won't get this payment if you live in a care home. 

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This article was written on 12 January 2022. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.