Most people will be cutting back this winter, so if you’re feeling anxious about finances then you’re not alone.

We know though that carers often have financial worries because they are caring for someone. If you are of working age, you may have reduced your working hours in order to care. You may be reliant on electrical equipment, on keeping the home warm for someone who is immobile or be using a lot of water for washing. Many carers will also be in control of the finances in their own home, plus the person (or people) they are caring for.

These are some simple tips and some advice about bills we have put together with help from Dorset Citizens Advice. Citizens Advice Dorset is a really useful resource for carers where you can speak to staff who have expert knowledge in areas that carers often need to know about, the advice they give is free, impartial and confidential.

All of the information below is liable to change, so for the latest information please contact your utilities provider or Dorset Citizens Advice on 0800 144 8848 or via Textphone on 0800 144 8884


Water bills

Wessex Water

Wessex Water covers most of Dorset. You can register for priority services if someone in the household requires additional support due to age, ill health, disability or mental health. You can sign up even if there is a temporary change in your personal situation, such as someone recovering from an operation or staying with you for a short time. You can pick which services you’d like to receive.

The service supports customers who may need extra help, especially during a supply interruption or sewerage emergency. Click here to access the registration form.

The following schemes are available for customers on a low income or who may have health needs leading to more water being used.

Bill cap scheme: Watersure Plus

If you receive social benefits or tax credits, and there are three or more children living at home, or someone in the property has a medical conditional that causes them to use significantly more water, your bill can be capped. You are required to have a water meter for this scheme. Find out more.

Assist scheme to reduce bills

Apply for Assist to receive a reduced bill based on your ability to pay. You will have to get independent advice and submit an income and expenditure sheet as part of the application for this scheme. Citizen’s Advice help a lot of people apply for Assist and bills can be reduced significantly if the application is accepted. Find out more.

Flexible payment plan

This plan allows you to pay less than you need towards your water bill for an agreed period of time and catch up on payments later. The bill remains and will need to be made up at a later date, but it is lowered for a while.

Restart Debt support scheme

This scheme is suitable if

  • You have significant water debt you can’t repay
  • You can’t afford your ongoing water bills

You will have to get free independent advice and submit an income and expenditure sheet as part of the application for this scheme. You pay the charges for the current year and at the end of the year Wessex Water will reduce your debt by an equivalent amount. If you continue to pay your current charges in year two, they will clear your remaining debt. Find out more.

Low income pensioner discount

This discount can be applied for if all the adults in your household receive Pension Credit or the state pension is your (and their) only income. Find out more.

Help with household bills

The Government has announced a number of one-off payments for qualifying people, including:

  • £650 cost of living payment
  • £150 disability cost of living payment
  • £400 energy bill support scheme
  • £300 one-off pensioner cost of living payment

Visit the government website for more information on these payments.

Heating your home

You can find more information on the Warm Home Discount Scheme on the website, or get updated information via Citizens Advice.

The Warm Home Discount Scheme no longer needs to be applied for (as it did in previous years). The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will decide who is eligible to receive it and contact them directly.

You may be able to get a Cold Weather Payment if you are receiving certain benefits or Support for Mortgage Interest. Find out about the Cold Weather Payment.

If you were born on or before 25 September 1956 you could get between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a Winter Fuel Payment. Find out more.

Council tax

A full council tax bill assumes that there are at least two adults over 18 living in a property. However, even if this is the case, you may qualify for a council tax percentage of discount or a complete exemption from paying council tax.

Under council tax legislation a person is considered to be a carer if they are:

  1. Providing care to a person entitled to one of the following qualifying benefits:
  • a higher rate of Attendance Allowance
  • the middle or highest rate of the care component of disability living allowance
  • any rate of the daily living activity component of Personal Independence Payment
  • An armed forces independent payment
  1. Resident in the same property as the person they are providing care for
  2. Providing care for at least 35 hours per week on average
  3. Not the partner of the person being cared for, or the parent, if the child is under the age of 18

You do not have to be in receipt of a carer’s allowance to claim a discount.

Contact details for the council tax team can be found here.

You will need to provide:

  • evidence of receipt of entitlement to benefits
  • proof of address, for example a bank statement with your name and address.

Severely Mentally Impaired

The severely mentally impaired discount may apply for a person who:

  1. Has a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning which appears to be permanent.
  2. Has a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner.
  3. And is entitled to one of the following benefits:
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance.
  • The highest or middle rate care component of Disability Living Allowance or the standard
  • An increase in the rate of disablement pension for constant attendance
  • A disability element of working tax credit
  • An unemployability supplement
  • Constant Attendance Allowance payable under the industrial injuries or war pensions schemes
  • An unemployability allowance under the industrial injuries or war pensions schemes
  • Income Support, which includes a disability premium because of incapacity for work

Required evidence is a completed application form and a letter or certificate of severe mental impairment from the person’s doctor along with proof of the qualifying benefit.

Disabled Persons

A discount can be given when there is a disabled person resident and one of the following is a feature of the home:

  • A room other than a bathroom, kitchen or lavatory is used predominantly by the disabled person.
  • A second bathroom or kitchen.
  • Extra space in the home to allow a wheelchair to be used indoors.
  • The room or the wheelchair must also be of major importance to the disabled person’s wellbeing, due to the extent of their disability.

You will need to complete an application, and in order to qualify for this discount a member of staff will need to visit your property.

Full details on discounts and exceptions can be found here.

TV licence

You can get a free TV licence if you’re 75 or over and you get Pension Credit (or you’re 75 or over and live with your partner who gets Pension Credit). You are also entitled to a 50% if you’re registered blind or live with someone who is. Those in residential care can get a special licence for £7.50 if they live in an eligible residential care home. Find out more about the TV licence and how to apply for a free or discounted licence.

You can find additional financial help and advice for households on the government website.