Wakefield Council is reassuring residents who fear they may not be able to afford rising energy costs, that its support services are here to help.
Concerns are being raised about the price of energy after Ofgem said it will be raising the Energy Price Cap from 1 October 2021 – with the average annual household energy bill set to increase by around £140. This is in addition to annual fuel rises of around £100 per household that came into force in April.
Citizens Advice report that COVID-19 has driven over half a million households into energy debt and seven million are worrying about their heating bills.
Wakefield Council offers a range of specialist money services and support to residents and is urging those who are struggling financially to seek help.
Cllr Darren Byford, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Regeneration and Property said: “If anyone is concerned being not being able to pay their energy bills, please know you are not alone and we are here to help, and can offer advice and a strong package of support.”
“We recognise that many households are facing very challenging times financially, due to impact of the pandemic, low wages and now these additional energy costs will be a major worry for some residents in our district people. Please do not worry – we are just a phone call away.”
Services include Money Smart, which is open to all residents, that has been running since 2018 and provides tailored support with energy efficiency improvements, energy switching, money and debt advice, benefit checks, and skills and employment support. Fully qualified money and debt advisors provide this service. And 737 households have been supported so far.
The Council has recruited additional staff to support residents, to able to meet any rise in demand for complex money, debt and energy bill related support.
Other services that can help residents who meet qualifying criteria, include the Council’s Mortgage Breathing Space – running since 2008, this unique project, hosted by the Council and available across the region, provides mortgage advice, lender negotiation, and interest free secured loans to prevent homelessness. So far 425 households have been supported and 225 loans (£1.8m) delivered, with £1.6m recycled loans paid back.
People who qualify can also access energy debt support, with grants to help clear problem energy debts enabling residents to move to cheaper energy suppliers and payment methods/tariffs.
Additional support for those that qualify includes home energy efficiency and fuel poverty schemes which offer a range of ongoing heating and insulation improvement grants and loans. Over 9,000 households have been supported since 2005.
Feedback from some private sector Money Smart clients is that they like dealing directly with the Council’s Money Smart Team for their money and debt issues. Money Smart can be contacted on 01924 305892 and firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about services at https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/housing/energy/money-smart