Ouch Too

Forum => Welfare Rights => Topic started by: Fiz on 03 Feb 2022 02:19PM

Title: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Fiz on 03 Feb 2022 02:19PM
I'm confused about the help the government have announced to counter the 54% rise in fuel costs from April 1st. I'm in receipt of a means tested disability benefit which cites this is the minimum amount the government says that I need to live on. I receive CTR and HB and have successfully applied for the warm home discount in the last few years which has been a life saver as fuel costs are my largest bill by a long chalk. Since the adrenal insufficiency arrived it makes me unwell to be cold so my gas use this winter has been twice the kWh of previous years.

As I read it, my energy costs will rise by 54% and I won't receive any additional help with this than I have in previous years or am I wrong?

It's a mockery of "this is the minimum amount the government says I need to live on" and yet fuel costs are rising by 54%!

I am so worried about the cost. I plan to turn off my heating on March 31st however cold April is.
Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Fiz on 03 Feb 2022 04:41PM
I've discovered that the government is providing £200 loans as credit to our energy accounts in October when the energy price cap is expected to rise a further 20% on top of the 54% announced today making energy costs 74% higher than now this year alone. Martin Lewis anticipates further price cap rises next year and the £200 government loans will need to be paid back each April from 2023 at £40 a time which will be added to our then even higher energy bills.

Can we refuse to accept this £200 debt? If so, how do we do that?
Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: lankou on 03 Feb 2022 06:05PM

As I read it, my energy costs will rise by 54% and I won't receive any additional help with this than I have in previous years or am I wrong?

You are wrong.

Watch or listen to news bulletins, Sunak has announced a £9 billion help package.
Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Fiz on 03 Feb 2022 06:55PM
I have read the articles and consulted the forum guides on the mse forums and it seems that I am right. The government are offering a £150 reduction on council tax in certain house bands this April but I get CTR so that won't benefit me further. They are giving £200 loans in October which I don't want as I don't want to incur debt. It seems that's it. I realise that for some people the £150 non repayable reduction in council tax will be a welcome relief and many won't have a problem in borrowing the £200 and paying in back over 5 years but I avoid debt like the plague and don't want it. One article says there may be changes to the warm home discount but these haven't been spelled out get. I haven't had mine this winter yet. So as get, no help for me except the offer of a loan/debt.
Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Monic1511 on 03 Feb 2022 09:19PM

The increase is 54% and yes there is no corresponding increase in benefits. The £200 appears to be a lump sum given to energy providers, they’re then meant to credit £200 to your account in October, just in time for the dreaded Christmas. Then they’ll administer a charge to all accounts of £3.33 per month like a standing charge.  The council tax refund will probably be at the discretion of the council, Scottish ones have previously offered either vouchers to spend in the local shops or £100 off your bill.  I have no idea how English councils will administer it.

As for not wanting a debt the chancellor dodged the question when Laura K asked if it was universal as he didn’t need it.

You will need to contact your local energy advice service to find out what happens in your area as these are often local rather than country wide.
Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Sunny Clouds on 03 Feb 2022 09:32PM
One approach to this, depending on the energy company, and subject to checking the precise details of how it will work, e.g. what will happen if you change suppliers before you've paid it back, would be to consider paying extra to your fuel company so that your account is in credit.

I do that anyway in the warmer months.  But then I'm a weirdo that keeps some extra money on a credit card account, i.e. treating a credit card like a pre-pay card.  I do that having previously found myself in hospital and at a loss how to pay bills and not wanting to get in debt.  When, in the past, a sudden crisis (fraud/theft not covered by insurance) meant racking up a credit bill fast, I took stuff to a pawnbroker rather than owe on a credit card.

Ironically, I felt ok in the past about having a mortgage, but that's a bit like pawning something  anyway, because the lender has a charge over the property.

Another thing to do that wouldn't be not-owing but would have a similar personal & psychological effect if you can do it would be to put £200 aside in a savings account or 'under the bed' or to label for yourself, if you have them, £200-worth of pawn-able/sellable possessions.
Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Fiz on 04 Feb 2022 05:46AM
I watched the Martin Lewis show during the night and funnily enough the one viewers question he asked Sunak was is it possible to refuse the loan and Sunak said no that would be too difficult to administrate. The £40 repayments will come out in April each year. The £150 "gift" to people in properties bands A-,D will be a one off credit of £150 in April to their council tax accounts which won't need paying back. That will help all my children. But as Martin said, won't help people on the lowest incomes.

I think it's ridiculous to force loans on people who don't want loans at all. Most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of.

During the show I learnt that the warm home discount is rising from £140 to £150 so an extra £10 a year, that'll pay for about two hours of heat at the most.

Also local councils will have funds to hand out up to £150 in non repayable grants and this may well include people not eligible for the council tax credit so it may be worth me applying for that. It is also non repayable but is discretionary and council's can set their own rules of eligibility. Not sure whether that grant opens in April. I doubt the government are paying for the local council's admin costs of that, that will have to come out of their current coffers no doubt. Sunak agreed that fuel is highly likely to increase further in October and again next year.

I still wish that I could refuse the loan but will attempt to apply for a grant from the local council. If their criteria is you need to be in debit with your energy provider then I won't qualify as pure planet had me over paying though I suspect that I have used up that credit now as I have yet to set up a new DD will the new provider.
Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Monic1511 on 04 Feb 2022 03:00PM
I have just seen this on Twitter from Martin Lewis
Just to clarify in practice the £200 bill-credit 'loan' on all home elec bills in Oct. - every bill will reduce by £200 - every bill after Apr 23 increases by £40/yr for 5yrs regardless of if you got the £200 or not. Its a 1yr bill reduction followed by a 5yr compulsory levy.
Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Fiz on 04 Feb 2022 04:44PM
Yes Martin Lewis has posted a video saying that everybody will be receiving a credit of £200 on electricity bills in October then there will be a £40 levy added to bills in April 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027.

A lot of upset people because this means that people buying their first homes in the coming years will be paying the £40 a year levy even though they didn't receive the credit this year and as people have pointed out couples who receive the £200 credit this October and subsequently split up will both be paying the £40 levy every April until those years are up so paying back up to double. This is not a helpful or generous offer from Boris. He needs the boot.
Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Sunny Clouds on 04 Feb 2022 06:43PM
In practical terms, though, that's how the tax system works.  It's just badly described. People pay in or don't pay in.  They take out a lot or not much.  The two levels rarely map on.

The classic example that lost me a friend when I expressed a view related to pensions. A friend was furious to find that a particular government publication & press release included state pensions & pension credit etc. with figures for benefits.  "But I paid for my pension!" she declared indignantly.  "No, you didn't," I said.  "You paid for the previous generation's pensions.  You paid into a ponzi scheme." 

Further agonising by her about how pensions are different from benefits drew from me the observation that it is possible, although not frequent, to have two people, one of whom paid more NI pound for pound than the other, and the one that paid less might have a pension they consider they paid for, and the other might have contributions-based sickness or unemployment benefits that people don't consider they paid for.

Most of the tax system is presented to the public in the way that's like some sort of tacky scam.  I think people would accept the unfairnesses much more readily if governments of all colours were a bit more honest.

And I think the way this fuel thing is being presented is a load of twaddle.  It's being presented as a loan to consumers.  Nope, it's at best a loan/re-arranged tax between the fuel companies and the treasurer/collective taxpayer.

Oh dear, I'm off on one about politicians and communication - I'd better give you a break from my rantings!
Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Fiz on 17 Mar 2022 05:12PM
I have contacted my LA benefits team to find out whether I will be eligible for a share of the £144 discretionary fund that  local authorities will be administrating from October. The government mentioned potential people to benefit from the fund will be low income people in receipt of full CTR (like me) who therefore won't be benefiting from the £150 reduction of the Council tax bill and some people living in housing council tax banding E-H who are in financial hardship may also be eligible to apply. But it's for each local authority as to who shall be eligible and my benefits team haven't even heard of this discretionary fund they will receive in October. So they're not on the ball at all. I guess it's those worried about meeting the cost of rising fuel that are going to be following the news avidly.

I sent them this link which mentions the fund briefly in a short paragraph but it's mentioned on many websites.


I need my benefits team to be aware of the fund before they can start thinking who they'll consider eligible though!
Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Sunny Clouds on 18 Mar 2022 10:46AM
This way of funding things by giving money to local authorities, when so many can't afford basics like providing essential social care, repairing potholes and providing children with educational essentials, is like some sort of weird lottery.  All we can do on here is to hope that where you are, you'll get a winning ticket, and the help you need.

Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Fiz on 18 Mar 2022 04:13PM
I've just had a surprise email from my LA who tell me that all households of properties in bands A-D will receive £150 in April. For those who pay council tax this money will be credited to their accounts and for those that don't pay council tax will receive the money instead. So they'll be contacting me as to how I would like to receive the money.

This is opposite to the discussion between Martin Lewis and Sunak where Martin Lewis pointed out that those on lowest incomes who receive CTR won't benefit from the £150 off their council tax bill and it was Sunak's response to that point that he said he would provide an additional discretionary fund to councils. Ho hum. But I guess I could be receiving £150 in April then? This is all about as clear as mud.
Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Sunny Clouds on 18 Mar 2022 11:59PM
Were you expecting anything from Sunak or his colleagues to be consistent or coherent?  Personally I've given up expecting it, but then I'm cynical, particularly where politics, taxes, social security etc. are concerned.

Fingers crossed all will go well with getting your money.
Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Monic1511 on 26 May 2022 02:57PM
Now in order to divert our attention from the Sue Gray report the fuel loan / windfall tax has been brought in as a bribe. The loan has been scrapped, additional money will be credited to everyone and the windfall tax that was voted down by the Tories last week is now in place.

While I welcome any additional money for consumers I don’t trust anything the government does
Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Sunny Clouds on 26 May 2022 05:55PM
And how's he going to deliver with a shortage of funding in local authorities for existing services, without adding paying out the previously announced amount, then the existing shortage of staff in the civil service, with massive staff cuts soon.  What other services will he cut back on to enable this to happen?

As I may have mentioned elsewhere, earlier this year I received a letter from HMRC in response to a letter I wrote.  I paraphrase it.  "Dear HMRC, I've been getting very inconsistent information on the phone about tax rates on my father's estate.  Could you clarify the rates of tax on..."  "Dear Customer, thank you for the letter you sent us a year ago.  Unfortunately I can't answer your questions because your circumstances will have changed." 

I wasn't asking them to apply rules to my personal circumstances, I was asking rates of tax on income and capital gains, e.g. interest received between death and closure of savings accounts, profit on sale of my father's house etc.  But it was very obviously a copy-and-paste letter.

Bear in mind that that's when I'm trying to give the state money, not vice-versa. 

So does anyone think they've actually got the staff to make all these expletive extra payments with any reasonable speed?

Meanwhile, the government's off on one about  benefit fraud again.  The BBC has published an article confuddling the figures for 'fraud' with the figures for 'fraud and error'.  Oh, good, bash the benny scroungers again.  No, just the 'fraudsters'.  That's fine then, none of us genuine claimants might be tarred with that brush then, unlike previous campaigns.

Funny how the government and BBC aren't finding the time and space to get so enthusiastic about PPE contract fraud, isn't it?  Still, you'd need lots of extra civil servants to investigate that, wouldn't you?  That or read a few Private Eye exposé articles and put a small team onto it.

Thank heavens for those that help others to get what they need.  I'm not in crisis, but there have been times in the past when I've been desperate, so my heart goes out to people who are struggling.
Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Sunny Clouds on 27 May 2022 01:53AM
I just looked on my council's website.  Because I don't pay by direct debit, it said I had to claim online and it was a long, tedious process.  But just before I clicked send on my application, it said that applying would transfer me to online billing for my council tax.  Well in theory, it shouldn't matter, because I'm exempt anyway, but I loathe online billing.

Re. the exemption - my bipolar disorder automatically entitles me to a severe mental impairment exemption, although I think my local council doesn't want people to know that, because all their SMI exemption stuff is now labelled 'dementia' all over it, thus not only giving the impression that other people can't claim it, but also putting off anyone with dementia that doesn't want to fill in paperwork that screams dementia all over it.  (That sort of thing was a nightmare with Dad.) 

Oh, and you can't claim a rebate from my council unless you have a phone number.  Some sorts of application systems let you insert 'deaf' into the phone number slot, but the contractor my council's using for this doesn't. 

So we'll see.  But this system makes me angry because the people that most desperately need the money may not currently (or ever) have internet access.  If I don't get mine, I'll be annoyed but not starving.  The same can't be said for all too many people.
Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Sunshine Meadows on 09 Jun 2022 02:01PM
You point about needing people to process the new payments is a good one but then what you said about Direct Debits maybe showed some joined up thinking  :f_erm:

I paid my hairdresser in cash yesterday and was reminded how much I hate the new notes. Slippery, hard to hold and hard to count, are we being nudged to use electronic money more because its paperless and therefore in a way easier to handle.

Title: Re: Help with rising fuel costs?
Post by: Sunny Clouds on 09 Jun 2022 02:28PM
I find the idea of a mixture between different sorts of currency/payment systems reassuring.  I don't want to get rid of cash but I think that that's the direction in which many societies round the world are going.

The Swedish government had a bit of a panic not many years ago when it was pointed out that there are places where it is effectively impossible to function without cards.  A team of cyberhackers could starve whole swathes of the country by blocking the payment processing systems if the government didn't mobilise emergency systems fast enough. 

(I don't have the right jargon for what I call the systems.  Mentally I  map it onto 'visa and mastercard' but it's not just that.  What I think of as 'card' payments also includes what I think of as 'smartphone' payments.)

Imagine you live in a village or small town and can only buy things like food, fuel, sanitary items etc. by card, then hackers block payments.  The Swedish government has been exploring various ways of protecting their country.

To put that in perspective, look how Nato governments have weaponised banking systems against Russia in relation to Ukraine.

There are also, separately, issues in relation to countries that pay benefits by means of special cards.  You end up trapped in being only able to buy your food from companies  with a contract with the government.  Forget buying anything cheap at your neighbourhood market or allotment sale.  (Not that I'd be cynical enough to suppose that it would be big companies with big profits that would make generous donations to a governing party's funds, of course.)

There's also an issue with people that can't get a bank account and with people that mentally can't cope with 'technology'.  It's possible to get a chip and signature card, but they can befuddle shop assistants.  Personally, I struggle with remembering PIN numbers when I'm depressed.  In the past, I've written them down in code, but what of people whose memory and reasoning skills aren't up to that?

So whilst I also hate the new notes, I am very scared of moving away from cash.  That being said, I don't even like having left the gold standard, so I'm a dinosaur.