Government support for cost of living

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The UK government has announced various measures to help families with rising energy costs and other cost of living increases. On this page, we explain what support might be available to your family.

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Ofgem energy price cap/ government energy price guarantee

The Ofgem energy price cap is the maximum annual price an energy supplier can charge for average usage on its standard variable rate. Ofgem reviews its energy price cap every three months based on wholesale markets.

It is important to be aware that the cap is not a limit on your energy bill. It is a limit on what the supplier can charge for each unit of energy, so that average usage at that unit rate won’t exceed a given annual cost. If your energy usage is above average, it could exceed the price cap.

From October 2022 – July 2023, the government set an energy price guarantee below the level of the Ofgem energy price cap. This has now come to an end. The government will keep the energy price guarantee at £3,000 until April 2024 as a safety net in case the Ofgem price cap rises above it again.

Ofgem energy price cap in England, Scotland and Wales

From 1 October 2023, the energy price cap is set at £1,834 a year. From 1 January 2024, the price cap is set at £1,928 a year.

Households without a pre-payment meter will have their energy rate set at the Ofgem price cap. Households with a pre-payment meter will receive a standing charges discount to ensure they don’t pay more for their energy than direct debit customers.

Energy price cap in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, where a different energy market operates, a similar energy price cap was applied as a discount on unit rates until 1 July 2023, when it came to an end.

The energy price guarantee will remain as a safety net until March 2024 in case wholesale energy prices rise significantly again.

Cost of living payments 2023/24

In his Autumn Statement in November 2022, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a second round of cost-of-living payments set to start from April 2023.

These payments are UK-wide. They are not taxable and will not affect the benefits or tax credits you get.

There is no need to apply. Eligible families will receive their payments automatically. This includes if you’re found to be eligible at a later date.

For more information about eligibility for the 2023/24 payments, take a look at the government’s factsheet.

£900 for those on means-tested benefits

Households on the following means-tested benefits will receive £900 in three instalments across 2023/24:

You will not get a payment if you get new-style ESA, contributory ESA or new-style JSA unless you also receive Universal Credit.

If you’re eligible, you will get:

These payments are made per household claim. This means joint claimants will receive a single payment of £900 across three instalments.

To be eligible for the second instalment of £300, you must have been entitled (or later found to be entitled) to a payment of one of the means-tested benefits listed above during the period between 18 August and 17 September 2023.

To have been eligible for the first instalment of £301, you must have been entitled (or later found to be entitled) to a payment of one of the means-tested benefits listed above during the period between 26 January 2023 and 25 February 2023.

The government has not yet announced qualifying dates for the third (£299) installment.

If you’re eligible, you’ll be paid automatically in the same way you usually get your benefit or tax credits. This includes if you’re found to be eligible at a later date. You can also report a missing payment if you think you’re owed one.

£150 for those on disability benefits

This includes individuals claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payment or their Scottish equivalents Child Disability Payment and Adult Disability Payment.

To be eligible, you or your child must be in receipt of (or have begun an eventually successful claim for) one of these qualifying disability benefits as of 1 April 2023. 

Most people will receive this payment automatically between 20 June and 4 July 2023. However, your payment might come later if you’re awarded a qualifying disability benefit at a later date or if you change the account your benefit is paid into.

You will be able to report a missing payment from 5 July.

£300 payment for pensioners

The government will make this payment in winter 2023/24.

Discretionary grants from your local council

If you are on a low income and you’re struggling financially, it’s worth applying to your local authority to see if you can access any grants, loans or assistance in kind. For more details, see our webpage on grants, loans and local welfare schemes

Some energy suppliers also provide grants to customers with fuel debts.