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help with heating and energy costs while on JSA?
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# 1
duchesspink1
Old 17-11-2011, 2:52 PM
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Default help with heating and energy costs while on JSA?

So i've worked since i've been 16 and i'm 37 now. I've not got a job at the minute as I moved from UK mainland to northern ireland.

I'm looking for work obviously but have been claiming JSA since march this year.

I'm currently on a payg electric meter as I had a bill I just could'nt pay however when I get my JSA fortnightly, I put £20 into the meter, it adds £16 to the account and takes £4 towards the £117 debt.
This £20 doesn't last in it very long at all. The elec company has put the cost of electric up by 18% this year so its a lot more on top of regular amount (appreciate its the same for everyone)

so now i've run out of oil in my tank. I've had a look around online and the least I can get delivered is £195 for 300 litres.

is there any way that people on JSA (£67 approx a week) can get help with electricity or heating costs? I just don't have £195 to hand out for oil yet know that when the snow etc comes, i'm going to be !!!!!!ed.

i've never had benefits prior to this so i'm not sure at all if there are other things I can claim until I start to work again

Thanks in advance
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# 2
duchesspink1
Old 17-11-2011, 2:53 PM
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i have no children and live alone, I get help towards the cost of my home from housing benefit although still pay £180 a month towards my rent myself.
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# 3
Lady_gaga
Old 17-11-2011, 3:07 PM
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Wear an extra layer and turn off everything that's not essential. No you won't get the DWP to pay your heating/electricity for you...
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# 4
PartyAnimal128
Old 17-11-2011, 3:20 PM
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I think you need to speak to a Citizens Advice Bureau, a benefits advice line, your energy supplier and if the energy company fails, then speak to the energy regulator.

I dont think its fair you are locked into a contract because you are paying the arrears instalments, let alone the energy supplier being able to unilaterally increase its prices during that time. Get a price comparison quote and ask your energy supplier to match it, failing that, make a complaint to offgem (or the energy regulator).
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# 5
duchesspink1
Old 17-11-2011, 3:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lady_gaga View Post
Wear an extra layer and turn off everything that's not essential. No you won't get the DWP to pay your heating/electricity for you...
I'm not asking anyone to pay it for me, i've paid my way my whole working life, I was asking if there was any help available as I'm not sure if i'm missing out on something that I may be entitled to

I find your tone quite condescending, obviously i'm not using anything that isn't essential and wearing an extra layer isn't going to help in a house with no oil when the snow and freezing temps come in.

thanks anyway though, I'm sure you didn't mean to come across so rude...
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# 6
duchesspink1
Old 17-11-2011, 3:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PartyAnimal128 View Post
I think you need to speak to a Citizens Advice Bureau, a benefits advice line, your energy supplier and if the energy company fails, then speak to the energy regulator.

I dont think its fair you are locked into a contract because you are paying the arrears instalments, let alone the energy supplier being able to unilaterally increase its prices during that time. Get a price comparison quote and ask your energy supplier to match it, failing that, make a complaint to offgem (or the energy regulator).
I'm not sure that i'm locked into a contract as such, I asked for the PAYG meter as I thought that it would be a much easier way to budget whilst on benefits however the increase really does impact when topping up the meter.

I'm going to ring the electric company as my meter seems to eat electricity much more than when i was paying a regular quarterly bill.

I thought i'd post here before trying the CAB as they are quite booked up and the next available appointment with an advisor in my area is friday next week.

I'll def try the electricity company and perhaps see if there is anything they can do to help.

its a nightmare having £67.50 a week to try to exist on whilst paying regular bills, rent, food etc. I honestly don't understand how anyone thinks that people would choose to live on benefits, unless they know something that I don't!

thank you for your post, its much appreciated.
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# 7
sueturnersmith
Old 17-11-2011, 3:32 PM
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I think most people are struggling with paying heating costs at the moment.

I'm disabled and can't get extra help, other than use my DLA which doesn't go that far. I have a severe heart condition which means that my hands and feet are always freezing cold. I have to heat just one room, and live in that during the winter. Could you not do the same? Oil heating is very expensive!
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# 8
chesky369
Old 17-11-2011, 3:33 PM
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Which company are you with? Some of the companies (British Gas, NPower etc) have charitable trusts which will help if you're having real problems, but I think you have to go through something like CAB.
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# 9
BigAunty
Old 17-11-2011, 3:34 PM
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I am not aware of any specific benefits (apart from the Winter Fuel Allowance for the elderly) to subsidise energy costs. Basically, JSA is your lot and is supposed to cover every expense, though as you are finding, it's a miserable existence (or subsistence, really) and it only takes a small spike in household expenses to plunge a household into crisis.

However, switching to direct debit and coming off the pre-payment meter should make it cheaper, plus you should try to negotiate down your debt repayments. The debt free wanabee board or Citizens Advice may know more (or even the Utilities forum on this website), to understand your rights and the suppliers obligations.

There are various loans available to those on benefits, such as a crisis or community loan, so you should see if your lack of oil will qualify you for one. The Direct Gov website should outline these, and the criteria for them, I'm not familiar with them.
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# 10
Caz3121
Old 17-11-2011, 3:35 PM
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many people on benefits would look to live somewhere within the LHA limit so they do not have to use their JSA for rent top-up. It is quite a lot of your JSA you are having to add towards your rent (which would obviously be useful for other bills) how long have you been in your property and when is your lease till? If you were working when you moved in and the cannot get out the lease for a while you may be able to claim discretionary housing payment for the additional rent for a limited time
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# 11
baza52
Old 17-11-2011, 3:35 PM
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you could move to a cheaper place and save £180 a month.
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# 12
BigAunty
Old 17-11-2011, 3:37 PM
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By the way, if you are struggling to make ends meet, see if there are any food banks in your local areas. These are charities that give out a few days basic grocery staples to those in need. This might free up some funds towards your energy needs. They are used to seeing people with debts, struggling on benefits, etc.
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# 13
Debbiejack
Old 17-11-2011, 3:41 PM
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It's worth asking your energy supplier if they have a dept that deals with help for people on low incomes.
They can change the amount they are collecting too,as £4.00 seems a lot to be taking weekly for such a small debt.
Even if you say you are struggling and could perhaps up the amount when winters over i'm pretty sure they would/could help you.
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# 14
HappyMJ
Old 17-11-2011, 3:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Debbiejack View Post
It's worth asking your energy supplier if they have a dept that deals with help for people on low incomes.
They can change the amount they are collecting too,as £4.00 seems a lot to be taking weekly for such a small debt.
Even if you say you are struggling and could perhaps up the amount when winters over i'm pretty sure they would/could help you.
Agreed it should be £3.40 per week. Which is £1.40 more than they are currently taking.

The OP said topped up £20 every 2 weeks £4 went to debt repayment and left £16 available.
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# 15
duchesspink1
Old 17-11-2011, 3:51 PM
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Thank you to most of you for your advice, I don't have any debts as i've always worked and earned a good salary, I left my marriage and had to move back to northern ireland, I moved into a house and the job I had set up for moving here fell through the week i was moving back.

I can afford to get food etc, I don't think i'm destitute just yet, but I had used a lot of electricity over last winter with having to use electric heaters for a period when I had no oil and couldn't afford a refill. That is how I got my electricity debt and obviously i'm paying it off everytime I refill my meter.

I have no choice but to have oil heating as it is the only heating source for this house, yes I realise i'm in the same boat as everyone else, I was just wondering if there was anything I wasn't claiming that I should be or any loans that are available through the DWP.

I can't move to a cheaper place as I have a lease on this house, you can't just up and move into a flat and i'm tied to be here until april next year at least. I do hope to be working before then and won't have to move.

Thank you big aunty for the info on the crisis loan, I wasn't aware that it could be used for fuel costs but its one i'll have a look at tomorrow when I go into the Jobcentre.

Ladygaga, you are being very rude and I'm not sure why you are commenting on this thread if you can't contribute anything useful.
I've worked my whole working life, I've never been out of work for longer than a week, I'm claiming benefits that i'm entitled to because i'm suddenly in the position of having left my marriage and having no employment at the moment, but isn't that what benefits are for? to help those that need short term help?

You are implying that I want someone to hand me the oil for my tank for the winter, I don't see where i've said that anywhere in my post. I am happy to get loan from the benefits office, after all, it will be paid back, i've never had a penny from the state before, paid a clean fortune in tax and national insurance over the last 22 years and frankly I don't need someone like you to try to look down on me and make me feel bad for asking a genuine question when I am genuinely in need of advice.

I don't choose to be on benefit, I'd far rather be working again and i'm confident that I will be. I just hope you never have to feel panicked because your heating has run out and you are only able to order a min amount costing £195 when you don't have that kind of money available.
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# 16
duchesspink1
Old 17-11-2011, 3:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sueturnersmith View Post
I think most people are struggling with paying heating costs at the moment.

I'm disabled and can't get extra help, other than use my DLA which doesn't go that far. I have a severe heart condition which means that my hands and feet are always freezing cold. I have to heat just one room, and live in that during the winter. Could you not do the same? Oil heating is very expensive!
hi sue, whilst looking around the net for benefits advice, there is the winter fuel payment mentioned a lot for those that are on disability benefits. Have you looked into them yet? apologies for suggesting it if you have.
I can't heat any rooms without the oil in the tank unless i'm using the electric radiator things, they eat electric but i'll happily heat one room if thats what I have to do.

I think its terrible that you have a severe heart condition and don't get any extra help x
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# 17
HappyMJ
Old 17-11-2011, 3:56 PM
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Do you know what tariff you are on? Power NI charges 17.37p/kWh and that will only buy you 2,400kWh per year at the rate you are topping up.
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# 18
BigAunty
Old 17-11-2011, 3:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duchesspink1 View Post
...
Thank you big aunty for the info on the crisis loan, I wasn't aware that it could be used for fuel costs but its one i'll have a look at tomorrow when I go into the Jobcentre.

.
Sorry, but to be clear on this topic, I don't really know the qualifying criteria for the types of loans I mentioned as I'm not familiar with them, but if you look on the Direct Gov website, they will detail this. I didn't mean to give the impression you could deffo get a loan.

On the subject of your costly accommodation, it's true that you have a contractual obligation but you might be able to negotiate an early surrender of the lease with your landlord. Some landlords will insist it is honoured, others will appreciate that a tenant is flagging up that they are at risk of going into arrears and will try to mitigate this by marketing it and letting the tenant leave when a new one is found.

I know that you say you can afford food, but you can't currently afford to heat and eat, so food banks are a way of helping you out of fuel poverty.

And you do have debts! Albeit a modest one made enormous and difficult to address because of your limited income!
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Lady_gaga
Old 17-11-2011, 4:01 PM
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just another bit of helpfull advice :O) you won't get a crisis loan to fill your oil tank, you may get £20 to cover your electricity if you have absolutely no money and it's run out but even then they would expect your JSA to cover your basic costs.
The average amount for a successfull crisis loan is60% of your normal JSA amount, so not very much.
you can now only get a max of 3 crisis loans in a rolling 12 month period
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# 20
duchesspink1
Old 17-11-2011, 4:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Debbiejack View Post
It's worth asking your energy supplier if they have a dept that deals with help for people on low incomes.
They can change the amount they are collecting too,as £4.00 seems a lot to be taking weekly for such a small debt.
Even if you say you are struggling and could perhaps up the amount when winters over i'm pretty sure they would/could help you.
i'm going to ring them tomorrow to ask about that as i'd not considered that they might take less until after winter.

I've got a job interview next week and i'm so hoping that I get the position, i've never had to ask for help before in my life.
I have a credit card and i'm seriously thinking about using it to get 500 litres of oil, that would be £303 and i could pay it off with the minimum amount until I start working again then clear it with my first wage. I cleared that card with my last salary payment before moving as I knew it would give me a clean slate and so far i've not put much back onto it as i've tried to ignore that its there for fear of getting into debt with it. It would mean having the heating for the winter without too much worry although being on JSA had me wondering if there was anything else I was entitled to before resorting to doing that.

I know that others in my situation can't afford food etc and are desperately struggling, I'm asking the question as I'm unused to benefit claiming and I'm totally naive about what is available and when. I'm grateful that you've suggested contacting them to ask about changing the repayment amount as I really never thought that might be an option. thank you

I've put stuff on ebay this week too so that should help a little.
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