In Thanet, residents are disconnecting from their electricity and gas supplies due to cost, and breaking into closed-off fireplaces so they can heat their homes with firewood. This is before April’s energy price rise hike of 54%. This article is designed to provide a few tips, a few local statistics, then a call to action.
1. Send in your meter reading
Send a meter reading to your energy supplier today (March 31) before the 1st April so they do not charge a higher rate for energy used in March. Providing a higher reading than actual is not recommended as it is fraud.
2. Claim your £140 warm home discount if available
You may be able to claim £140 via the Warm Home Discount scheme (ends today) if you are on low income and meet your energy suppliers criteria for the scheme. Contact your energy supplier to find out if you are eligible.
3. Stick with direct debits
According to Martin Lewis from Money Saving Expert if you are thinking of ending direct debits to quarterly bills or prepayment (with prepayment meters), then be aware it may cost you more over the long term.
4.Your energy company can help
Let your electricity company know if you are worried about paying bills. You can ask for payment breaks, more time to pay, access to hardship funds, advice on how to use less energy, emergency credit, Priority Service registration if you are in a vulnerable situation (such as those of state pension age, or with a disability, or long-term medical conditions), and you can ask for a review of your payments and debt repayments. If that does not work you can call Citizens Advice for help on 0808 223 1133 or online at
5. Your Council can help
If those options are not sufficient, we have an excellent Council energy team who act as a referral service who can hopefully link you to additional support. See image and weblink below for more details.
The statistics for Thanet mean that this area is going to be particularly affected by the imminent cost of living crisis.
- Twenty two percent (22%) of Thanet residents are on Universal Credit, the highest number in Kent at 17,779 residents. Nearly one in four.
- One in three children in Thanet are classed as living in poverty.
- We have the highest youth unemployment in the whole of the South East at 9.8%, and
- We have 4,672 residents over the age of 65 claiming pension credits.
So, what can be done?
In Thanet we are lucky to have so many organisations and volunteers providing support for our residents, from foodbanks, churches, synagogues, mosques, homeless shelters, community groups and pay-as-you-can-afford restaurants. Please reach out and do not go through this alone.
Politically speaking, it is our MPs who are responsible for this situation, so please write to them. In France decisions were taken to limit electricity price rises to 4%, in Belgium the VAT was cut from electricity bills, so there are impactful things that politicians can do. Please ask them “What do you plan to do about the worst cost of living crisis in 50 years, with 5 million children soon to be in poverty.”
Written by Cllr Rob Yates on behalf of Thanet Labour Party
Southern Water is also offering support as costs rise, although the company says its combined bills are going down.
Southern Water has support including payment holidays, special tariffs and tailored payment plans.
They also offer support and extra help for those living with long-term illness, disability, the elderly and new parents or parents with young children, who along with others, are entitled to join the Priority Service Register (PSR).
Southern Water currently provides over 126,000 customers across its region with some form of financial assistance, an increase of 21,000 since the start of the pandemic. Last year it provided £12.5 million worth of support.
Saving water can also help reduce bills and the company offers a free water-saving home visit, where one of its engineers could fit up to £100 of water-saving devices in a customer’s home.
In February, Southern Water announced that the average combined household bill for water and wastewater treatment services would be falling by £5 a month. The 2022–23 average household water and waste bill will be £401.54; compared to the 2021–22 average bill of £406.91
Find out about the priority services register for addition support with water supply for those who cannot be without water:https://www.southernwater.co.uk/account/extra-help-and-support
Surely, it is essential to warn people not to do as your first paragraph suggests, without the chimney being professionally swept and checked? Open fireplaces are also very poor burners of wood, providing little heat and cause serious pollution.
Yes, but (if you burn scrap wood) it’s free.
It would be a very good idea to get your flue swept and the integrity checked, or you could end up with carbon monoxide poisoning.
That’s ok to send in your meter readings to your provider but their sit is down! Is that due to everyone sending in their readings or a ploy to get your readings in tomorrow when they can charge you at the higher price!!
So true, have been on my energy company app & internet but cant even get to the login pages.
Their automated phone meter read submit portal worked first time . Took 10 minutes!
I blame CLOWNHEAD.
For years I have been phoning my meter readings into Ecotricity on the 1st working day of each month, and ask for a paper Bill without any problems! They send me a paper Bill within a few days, and I pay by cheque, I think its foolish to pay a Standing Order, why do people do that? In view of the extra energy bills expected, I thought I would start trying to economise.
Although a pensioner, with a good income, I would be able to absorb any more energy increases, but instead started to wear an extra pullover, and turned off my central heating whenever I felt too warm, or went out. I was able to be quite comfortable at 23 degrees, whereas I had previously had the central heating set at 25 degrees, and running even when I wasn’t at home. For decades I have always recorded my energy consumption monthly, this was so I can make a comparison of my usage going back years! Thats how I calculated I managed to reduce my gas consumption for March by 17%!