Octopus Energy has opened a £2.5 million scheme to help households who are struggling to cope with soaring energy prices .
Under the scheme, customers can apply for a grant between £50 and £500 to put towards gas and electricity bills.
Octopus has already helped 20,000 customers through its Octo Assist Fund since its launch in November last year and it is still accepting applications.
The funding comes amid rocketing gas and electricity prices, with household energy bills expected to rise by around £600 for millions in April.
Consultants Cornwall Insight predicted the price cap, set by regulator Ofgem, could rocket from £1,277 to £1,865 in April, when it is next due to change.
The price cap applies to around 15 million British households who have chosen to pay for their electricity on the open market rather than under fixed-price deals.
Dr Craig Lowrey, from Cornwall Insight, said: “It is looking increasingly likely the summer default tariff cap will increase around 50 per cent to approximately £1,900 for the typical user, adding more than £600 extra on the average yearly bill.
“Assuming there is no change in the delivery of the cap, we forecast winter prices are likely to increase even more to in excess of £2,000.”
What is the criteria for applying?
Octopus has not set out any specific eligibility criteria, but said it can offer support based on circumstances and need.
Customers will be asked to answer a series of questions about their financial situation and all applications will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
There is no deadline to apply and the fund will remain open until the £2.5 million runs out.
Applications can be made by filling out an online financial support form on the Octopus website.
What if I am not offered funding?
Those who are not offered funding from the scheme may be provided help in other ways, including access to other existing funding schemes.
This could include support through the government’s Warm Home Discount scheme, which deducts £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2021 to 2022.
Customers may also be eligible to claim a £25 cold weather payment, or receive help from the government's £500million Household Support Fund.
Octopus is also offering to loan customers a thermal imagery camera to find heat leaks in the home. Steps can then be taken to make the house more energy efficient, thereby reducing costs.
If you are not an Octopus customer, it is worth contacting your energy supplier to see what support is available.