What is a grant?
A grant is money, or a voucher, that contributes towards the cost of you buying something. While it may not cover the full cost of the item, meaning you'll have to cough up the rest yourself, it's almost always free.
Most grants tend to be for specific utility suppliers, which can mean even after the grant, it isn't necessarily the cheapest place. They're usually offered to encourage people to do or buy something they wouldn't normally consider.
For more help saving on home devices, plus tips from DIY nuts, see the In My Home forum board.
The top energy grants, discounts & freebies
Energy is one of the main grant-giving areas as substantial Government funding is available to reduce our impact on the environment.
The Government, energy suppliers and local authorities all provide grants to help you implement energy saving measures. The best place to start is the Government's Energy Saving Trust (EST). It has an advice and information helpline on 0300 123 1234 (or see where to find similar info for Scotland and Northern Ireland).
Everyone should try this. Here's some inspiration...
I have been lucky enough to qualify for a brand new boiler. I didn't think I'd meet the criteria but I did, so check and see if you qualify too.
The end result of these grants is an increase in your home's value, warmth and economy. Of course, just as big savings are available by cutting costs, or insuring your boiler against breakdown. Check out our Cheap Gas & Electricity and Boiler Cover guides.
If you use heating oil to warm your home, instead of gas, we've compiled five simple steps to cut your costs, too. For full help see our Cheap Heating Oil guide.
The big energy suppliers are giving wads of freebies to those receiving certain benefits, from new boilers to insulation. It's because of efficiency obligations to people in certain groups.
The cost of a new boiler varies, but a typical gas boiler replacement costs around £2,300, so this is a fantastic freebie.
Boilers are one of the biggest contributors to energy bills – the more efficient your boiler, the more heat it produces from each gas unit. Depending on its age, a shiny new efficient one could save you between £100 and £300 a year.
Cavity wall insulation can slice between £70 and £250 off energy bills every year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. We've heard of cases where damp has formed after having cavity wall insulation installed, so make sure it's appropriate for your home.
If your loft isn't insulated and you get it fitted with 270mm of new insulation, this'll save another £120-£220 a year.
You could qualify for freebies if you get tax credits or income-based benefits, such as pension credit or income support. Check the Free Boilers and Insulation guide for the latest offers.
The deadline has passed for the 2017/18 winter, and criteria to apply for winter 2018/19 have not yet been published. The information below relates to winter 2017/18 - we'll update as soon as new criteria are out.
If you were born on or before 5 August 1953, then regardless of income, you can grab a one-off, tax-free winter fuel payment of between £100 and £300 from the Government.
You usually get the money before Christmas every year, and it doesn't affect any other benefits you get, but exactly how much you'll receive depends on your circumstances.
Who's eligible? You can get it automatically if you're on the state pension or in receipt of another social security benefit, such as pension credit, jobseeker's allowance (JSA), or income-related employment and support allowance (ESA). See the full eligibility criteria.
If you've not had it before and don't get benefits or a state pension, or only get housing benefit, council tax reduction, child benefit or universal credit, then you'll have to claim it. To get it, you'll have to apply by 31 March 2018 (though the later you apply, the longer you'll have to wait to get it).
It's available to all in the UK, so if any of the following circumstances applied to you between 18 and 24 September 2017, here's what you'll get for winter 2017/18.
Winter fuel payments – how much could you get in 2017/18?
|CIRCUMSTANCE||BORN BETWEEN 25 SEP 1937 AND 5 AUG 1953||BORN ON OR BEFORE 24 SEP 1937|
|You qualify and live alone (or none of the people you live with qualify)||£200||£300|
|You qualify and live with someone under 80 who also qualifies||£100||£200|
|You qualify and live with someone 80 or over who also qualifies||£100||£150|
|You qualify, live in a care home, but don't get a benefit that's listed above||£100||£150|
The cold weather payment is a separate grant paid by the Government to older people and those on certain benefits, to help cover costs when temperatures hit zero in your area.
It applies if the average temperature is – or is forecast to be – 0°C or below for seven days in a row between 1 November 2018 and 31 March 2019.
You'll get £25 for every seven consecutive days of cold weather, payable into the same account your benefits are paid into, within 14 working days of the cold spell.
Who's eligible? Everyone in the UK that gets pension credit qualifies. In addition, you're eligible if you get income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or universal credit (you're excluded if you're employed or self-employed) AND you either have a child who is disabled or under five living with you, or you get a disability or pensioner premium. See the full eligibility criteria.
The deadline has passed for the 2017/18 winter, and criteria to apply for winter 2018/19 have not yet been published. The information below relates to winter 2017/18 - we'll update as soon as the new criteria are out.
The Warm Home Discount requires the big suppliers, by law, to help vulnerable customers in the UK pay for energy. Those who are eligible are able to get a £140 rebate on energy bills.
You can see which tariffs the discount is available with via MSE's free Cheap Energy Club. The Warm Home Discount availability pops up in your comparison results.
Who's eligible? The core group it helps are those who get pension credit. Households on a credit meter get the reduction on their bill, while those with a prepay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter will have to apply. You were eligible if, on 9 July 2017, the following applied to you:
- Your supplier was part of the scheme.
- You were getting the guarantee credit element of pension credit (even if you get savings credit as well).
- Your name, or your partner's name, was on your electricity bill.
Low-income families also now qualify. This means customers who are considered to be from a vulnerable household will be able to get it. For the full eligibility criteria read below
How do I apply? If you qualify for the 2017-2018 rebate, you should have got a letter before 30 November 2017 telling you whether you're part of the core group that's eligible for an automatic discount, or that you're not and need to apply for it. If you need to apply, the cut-off date varies by supplier - though payments need to be made by 31 March 2018, so make sure you do it well before then.
How will I get the cash? The money isn't paid to you, it's a one-off discount on your electricity bill, usually between October and March. If you're on prepay, your supplier can tell you how to claim it - usually it's a voucher worth £140 for your meter.
Which suppliers participate in the scheme?
In February 2018, Ofgem introduced a cap on energy prices for everyone on a standard tariff who gets the Warm Home Discount, limiting what suppliers can charge for gas and electricity.
If you get Warm Home Discount, but you're on a fixed deal, your prices WON'T change.
Free cash to help pay for utility arrears
Some utility companies also offer help if you have large arrears on your gas, electricity or water bills. Please let us know if you have success with any of these schemes.
Some providers offer an energy fund scheme – this can include both grants to help cover energy arrears, and (sometimes) Further Assistance Payments to contribute towards things like white goods, boiler repairs or funeral costs. Apply via these links: British Gas Energy Trust / EDF Energy Trust / E.on Energy Fund / Npower Energy Fund / Scottish Power Hardship Fund / Ovo Energy Fund.
- Help with arrears. To apply for help with arrears you'll need to be an account holder – you'll need to complete a full income and expenditure budget sheet along with proof of your income, plus give details on how your arrears have built up, eg, due to illness or redundancy, and say how the grant will help you. It can take several weeks to process your claim.
- Further Assistance Payments. Anyone living in a home supplied by British Gas, E.on and EDF can apply for Further Assistance Payments with their provider.
Customers of E.on, EDF, Npower, Scottish Power and Ovo Energy can apply to their respective trusts, although they may still be able to get help clearing outstanding debts to other past suppliers. It's worth noting that with British Gas you DON'T need to be a customer to apply for either help with arrears or Further Assistance Payments.
For other providers or general advice, the Energy Saving Trust provides independent information and advice on grants and energy saving tips to people struggling to pay their bills and keep warm.
Also see the Cheap Gas & Electricity guide.
The Water UK website has info on all the water company schemes. Help from all providers includes WaterSure (see below), referrals to hardship funds and help in applying for direct payment from benefits (Water Direct).
If you're on a meter and on certain benefits, and either have three or more children living in the house under the age of 19 or someone in the household with a medical condition needing lots of water, you could get help from the WaterSure scheme. This caps your bills at the average household bill for your company.
Some providers also offer other special tariffs and/or New Start/Restart (the name depends on where you live), a scheme that can match payments or write off some of your debt if you enter an arrears payment plan.
Also see the Cut Water Bills guide.
Some means-tested benefits recipients can get BT's special basic tariff for £5.10 per month. The BT Basic package includes an allowance of £1.50 worth of calls per month to landlines. Free weekend calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers, for up to 60 minutes a call, are also included.
After going over the £1.50 allowance it's 11.3p a minute per call, plus 3.3p for each call on top, for normal calls. There's also a monthly price cap of £10 on calls starting 01, 02 and 03, and to mobiles starting 07 and 08. You can call to check your bill amount any time, or check online.
You're eligible for BT Basic if you're on any of the following benefits: income support, income-based JSA, ESA (income related), the guaranteed credit element of pensions credit and finally if you get universal credit but you're on zero earnings. For more info visit BT's website.
Also see the Cheap Home Phones guide.
Get Our Free Money Tips Email!
For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - join the 10m who get it. Don't miss out
The freebies you get vary by supplier – the water efficiency site Save Water Save Money collates all the best ones up for grabs.
Examples include flush bags, water widgets, shower timers and water audit leaflets. To see what you can get, plus more details on how the scheme works, go to the full Cut Water Billsguide.
The top home help schemes and grants
Grants for the home come in two flavours. They're either for home safety improvements – whether it be smoke alarms or security – or they help the vulnerable or those on low incomes who'd struggle to make the improvements themselves.
Home repair and maintenance help
If you are elderly, disabled or on a low income, your local Home Improvement Agency (HIA) may help you to repair, improve, maintain or adapt your home. There are around 200 HIA services around the country that can help in varying ways.
Assistance can include providing a list of reliable local builders and contractors, checking if you can get financial help or helping to make your home more energy efficient. Search for your nearest HIA on the Foundations website (or Care and Repair Cymru in Wales).
Alternatively, independent charity Turn2Us has a grant search to help you check for any charities that might be able to help with things like furniture, decorating or bills and household expenses. The grants usually depend on an individual's circumstances, maybe any illnesses or their nationality, occupation, age or income.
Need help in an emergency?
Since April 2013, under the Department of Work and Pensions' Social Fund reform, each local authority has been responsible for providing help to its residents in an emergency.
This could be you or your families' health being at risk, not being able to afford to buy food, needing help to stay in your own home and coming out of care, hospital or prison. Low income families can apply and the maximum award varies, though it's usually a couple of hundred pounds.
However, it's a postcode lottery. Each council can choose whether to offer financial help or not, or who is eligible. For example, some may give furniture or food grants while others may give cash. Ask your council for more info.
Free fire safety check and alarm
Many local fire stations offer free home fire risk assessments, to check for potential fire risks and give fire safety advice.
The check will help you plan what to do if a fire starts in your home and you'll usually be given a free smoke alarm if you don't already have one.
The scheme's open to anyone but it's aimed at the elderly, families with young children or any homes which may carry a high fire risk.
The Chief Fire Officers Association has put together a list of what each brigade offers and you can find out more about the assessments on the Fire Servicewebsite. If your local brigade isn't listed, you could ring it to see what it offers.
Help adapting your home if you're disabled
A Disabled Facilities Grant is available from your council to help towards the cost of adapting your home if you, or someone living in your property, is disabled.
You can get up to £30,000 in England, £36,000 in Wales and up to £25,000 in Northern Ireland. In Scotland, Disabled Facilities Grants aren't available.
The grant is for work that is essential to help a disabled person live an independent life. Here's an example...
I had a disabled facilities grant to remove my bath and put in a level access shower.
Contact your council's housing or environmental health department and ask it to send you an application form before you start work. If work begins before the council's approved your application, you won't normally get anything. Find more info on the grant on the Gov.ukwebsite, as well as your council's details.
In Wales, an additional scheme provided by Care and Repair is the Rapid Response Adaptations Programme, which helps with small-scale alterations to your home (such as grab rail instalments). You need to be referred by a health or social services professional such as an occupational therapist, so speak to your doctor to see if you qualify.
Feel safer in your home
Age UK runs a local handyperson service in over 80% of the country. This involves security-checked individuals visiting elderly people's homes (though anyone over 50 can apply) to do small repairs, grab rail instalments and security improvements to doors and windows.
Charges for handyperson services are set at local levels so call your local Age UK. Costs are around £5-£25 per hour dependent on the work being undertaken. For info call Age UK on 0800 678 1174.
Council or housing association grants
Other grants for your home (including for landlords) are available from your council or Housing Association (if you are a tenant of one). Anyone can apply but as councils can offer different funding, search for details on its website or contact them to ask for more information.
To find your council's details enter your postcode in the Gov.ukwebsite. Be careful to check if there are any restrictions on council grants, as some need you to have lived in the property for a number of years or require you to repay part of the grant if you move within a certain timeframe.