Third of Britons to ration heating to keep bills down, research finds

Nearly a third (31%) of people will try to ration their heating during the coming months to keep costs down, a survey has found.

Around half (49%) are worried that being at home more will lead to higher costs this winter, rising to six in 10 (60%) of people aged 34 and under.

Three in 10 (29%) of all households surveyed said they are probably not in a financial position to be able to meet the cost of higher energy bills this winter.

Comparethemarket.com, which published the research, said a rise in consumption may lead to households paying nearly £80 more typically in November and December than normal.

Aside from rationing how much heating they use, some households would consider cutting down costs in other areas such as food shopping and luxuries (27%); dipping into savings (19%); going into debit on their energy bill account (12%); asking family or friends for support (7%); or using a credit card (7%).

Information published on regulator Ofgem’s website for households managing their energy supply during the coronavirus pandemic says that if people are struggling with money, potential options include reviewing bill payment plans, payment breaks or reductions and more time to pay.

Peter Earl, head of energy at comparethemarket.com, said: “The pandemic continues to put considerable pressure on household finances, with many people experiencing squeezed budgets.

“Temperatures are dropping, and with more people at home as a result of the pandemic, many households could face a nasty bill shock this winter.

“Energy is an essential utility, and anyone concerned about their ability to afford their energy bills should speak with their supplier.”

More than 2,000 people were surveyed in November for the research.

People working from home this winter may also be able to get tax relief, including if they are having to work from home due to coronavirus.

But they cannot claim this tax relief if they choose to work from home.

Employers can pay employees up to £6 a week tax-free to cover additional costs if they have had to work from home.

But employees who have not received the working from home expenses payment direct from their employer can apply to receive the tax relief from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Eligible taxpayers can claim tax relief based on the rate at which they pay tax.

For example, if an employed worker pays the 20% basic rate of tax and claims tax relief on £6 a week, they would receive £1.20 a week in tax relief (20% of £6 a week) towards the cost of their household bills.

More information on claiming tax relief for work-related expenses is at gov.uk/tax-relief-for-employees/working-at-home.

Some people, such as pensioners and people receiving certain benefits, can also get winter fuel payments of up to £300 to help towards heating costs.

More information about it can be found at gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment.

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