Rent, mortgages and payments
Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are provided by your local authority (or the Northern Ireland Housing Executive website) and can provide extra money for help with your rent.
Support for mortgage interest (SMI) is a loan from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and can help with mortgage costs, if you are on a means-tested benefit. It must be repaid but usually only when you sell your home or give it to someone else. The DWP charge interest on the loan, meaning you’ll pay back more than you borrowed; however, it could be cheaper than other ways of borrowing money.
If you are struggling with the cost of Council Tax, check if your local authority has a discretionary Council Tax scheme and whether you are entitled to any discounts. You can also ask your local authority to spread the cost of your Council Tax over 12 months instead of 10 months.
Independent living and renovations
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to getting funding to help make your house a home, the Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) can ease a lot of the worry. HIAs are locally commissioned services that ensure people can stay safe, secure and warm while retaining independence in their own home.
A Disabled Facilities Grant is provided by your local authority for essential renovations to your home to help a disabled person live an independent life, such as installing ramps or widening doors.
Independence at Home may be able to help you if you or a family member have a long-term illness or disability, and need financial help towards the cost of independent living. This can include equipment, home adaptations or other essential items to improve your independence, comfort, safety and quality of life at home.
The Renovation Grant in Northern Ireland is for homes that have been found unfit to live in and pose a risk to the occupant(s)’ health.
The Disabled Living Foundation have a range of factsheets around independent living, including detailed information on how to source funding and grants as well as making choices about home adaptations. Their online self-help guide ‘AskSARA’ also provides advice, support and products that make daily living easier.
Don’t forget to claim VAT relief. If you’re disabled, any building work you do to adapt your home may be zero-rated for VAT. Find out if you have a VAT exemptions on building work.
Energy and water
The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is a government energy efficiency scheme in the UK to help reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty. Find out more about how the scheme affects consumers, suppliers, installers and industry.
Winter Fuel Payment is a benefit paid to older people to help them to keep warm in winter.
The Warm Home Discount Scheme can provide a one-off discount on electricity bills for those on a low income. The money is not paid to you – it comes off your electricity bill, credited between September and March. The discount will not affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.
The following energy suppliers offer grants and schemes to help fuel-poor customers clear their energy debts, ranging from new boilers and white goods costs:
- British Gas Energy Trust
- npower Energy Fund
- Scottish Power Hardship Fund
- OVO Energy Fund
- E.ON Energy Fund
- EDF Energy Trust
- SSE Priority Assistance Fund
You may also be eligible for extra support from your energy supplier through the Priority Service Register.
Reduce your water rates by checking the Consumer Council Water website to see if you’d save money by changing from a water meter to a fixed rate. See other ways of reducing your water costs.
The WaterSure scheme allows certain water users to have their bills capped, if on a water meter and someone in the home has a medical condition which requires a significant use of water.