Budgeting for winter with Direct Debit
When you are living on a fixed income, large seasonal bills are much more of a worry. Help take the stress out of winter with our budgeting guide.
Spreading the cost of winter fuel
- Speak to your utility providers now – many of them offer a budget scheme or payment plan where payment is made by regular fixed sum Direct Debits which even out payments over the year to save you finding extra funds in winter
- If your income varies, you may be able to put money towards your next bill when you can with a flexible payments scheme. Payments can usually be made at a bank or Post Office, or by post
- A pre-payment meter is charged up by tokens, cards or special keys. Paying as you go like this stops big surprise bills but can be more expensive.
(Not all companies offer all options. Check with your supplier – you’ll find their phone number on the bill or in the local phone book.)
If you’re over 60, you may be entitled to a Winter Fuel Allowance and Christmas bonus from the Government. Both can be paid straight into your bank by Bacs Direct Credit, saving you more time and money. Information about Winter Fuel Allowance can be found below. For details on the Christmas bonus visit the Government website.
Switching fuel suppliers
It sometimes pays to switch suppliers as you could save money on your energy bills. There are numerous 'switching' websites where you will find information to help you compare costs of the different fuel suppliers to find the best deal.
Help with extra heating costs
Winter Fuel Payment – The Government makes an annual Winter Fuel Payment to people aged 60 and over to help towards fuel bills. The only qualification is age. To find out more about Winter Fuel Payments visit the Government website or call the Winter Fuel Payments helpline on 0845 915 1515.
Cold Weather Payments – If you get Pension Credit you should get extra money each week that the weather is very cold to help with the extra heating costs. The Department for Work and Pensions will automatically pay you when the average temperature is recorded as, or is forecast to be, 0 degrees Centigrade or below over seven days in a row at a given weather station. A notice should appear in your local paper to let you know when Cold Weather Payments are being made. For more information visit the Government website.
What if you are struggling to pay?
Tell the gas or electricity company at once. Never just ignore the bill. If you let the company know you are having problems, they should be able to help you, especially if you aged over 60.
Get more advice from:
If you are receiving benefits and you are in debt for fuel, the government Fuel Direct scheme can pay some of your benefit directly to the fuel company. Ask at your local benefits office.