Winter can be a difficult time of year financially; having the heating on means higher energy prices and Christmas can put extra strains on finances too. We have information on the different financial support options available to you. From help with household bills, to food banks and help with health costs and support you may be able to access as an unpaid carer.  

Support with household bills

It is important that you are able to adequately heat at the very least one room of your home, especially if you are caring for someone with limited or no mobility or who is older. 

 Ofgem state that energy suppliers won’t disconnect your gas or electric if you miss a payment. If you have a prepay meter that you can’t afford to top up, you can ask for ‘emergency credit’.  

Suppliers must also offer payment plans that you can afford. See the Ofgem website for further information. 

There are a range of grants and support available to help those on certain benefits

The Warm Home Discount Scheme can give you £140 off your energy bill, between October and March. Your energy provider should be able to offer more information and it’s best to apply as soon as possible. You can find more information at gov.uk. 

Healthy Homes Dorset can provide energy advice, and access to a wide range of grants for cavity wall, loft insolation and heating. 

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue can provide advice and support with winter warmth packs. They offer a free Safe & Well visit, during which they can advise on heating as well as home fire safety advice. Request a visit here. 

The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual one-off payment to help your pay for heating during the winter. You can usually get this if you were born on or before 26 September 1955. 

Cold Weather Payments are one-off payments to help you pay for extra heating costs when it’s very cold, available to those in receipt of certain benefits. 

SSE offer a Priority Services Register that you can ask to be added to. Customers on the register will receive additional help, such as priority help such as advice on a range of helpful and accessible services, at no extra cost to you. 

ECHO (Emergency Central Heating Offer) is a scheme that offers emergency assistance to fuel poor or vulnerable households to repair or replace broken or condemned boilers. Call Ridgewater Energy on 01202 612726 to check if you are eligible.  

LEAP for a tailored advice and support service based on your needs, including any onwards referral or referral for a follow-up home visit when suitable. You can apply for this on their website 

LEAP (Local Energy Advice Partnership) is a free home visit scheme to assist residents throughout Dorset with free energy advice, energy saving devices, along with access to other improvements like heating upgrades and insulation. You can apply through the LEAP Home Visit scheme on the Ridgewater Energy.  

If you are finding it difficult to make sense of all these options or filling out the forms you need to get the support you are entitled to, Citizens Advice can help.  

They have lots of information and guidance on the benefits section of their website or you give your local Citizens Advice a call, you can find your local Citizens Advice on the Contact Us page of their national website. 

Support if you are out of work

If you have lost your job or are working reduced hours you may be able to claim: 

  • Universal Credit 
  • New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (New Style JSA) 
  • New Style Employment and Support Allowance (New Style ESA) 

You can read more information about your eligibly on the Government website.  

Helping you budget

With the majority of us owning a smartphone, it can be a useful tool in managing and controlling your everyday finance. Mobile apps provide the simplest and smartest way to budget. You can check out the most popular budgeting apps online.  

Support with debts

Citzens Advice give you the information you need to make the right choices, including help to deal with your debt problems, how to avoid losing your home and how to get your finances back into shape. 

What benefits could I get?

For information and advice on what support you could be eligible to you can use Turn2us. They even have a benefit calculator where you can input your information to be told exactly what you could be eligible for.  

Benefits as a carer

Carers Allowance 

Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers. If you are looking after someone for 35 hours a week or more, you may be eligible. 

Carer’s Credit 

Carer’s Credit is a useful benefit that could help you secure your pension. It is especially worth looking into if you can’t claim Carer’s Allowance. 

You can find out more about the benefits you might be able to claim on the Carers UK website.   

Food banks

There are lots of food banks available across Dorset, you can find your local one on the Help and Kindness website.  

Support with health costs

If you are finding it hard to meet your health costs, you may be able to get help under the NHS low-income scheme. 

The amount of help you get will depend on the amount of income you have. There are two types of certificates: a full help certificate (HC2), and a limited help certificate (HC3), which tells you how much you have to pay. 

You can find out more and get a copy of the form needed to apply on the Citizens Advice website 

Support over Christmas

Winter in Dorset is set to provide affordable food and activities for families with children eligible for free school meals over the Christmas break. You can find out more about the programme of events on the Dorset Council website.  

For more information on any of the services mentioned above, please contact one of our friendly Carer Advisers on 0800 368 8349.