• Over half a million families on communal and district heat networks excluded from Energy Price Guarantee – with some facing bills of over £500 a month
  •  Families on heat networks with communal electricity are yet to receive a penny of government support despite repeated promises

 A consumer champion is calling for the government to deliver on its promise of support for more than half a million families who are not protected by Ofgem’s new price cap or the Energy Price Guarantee.

Heat Trust, the consumer body for people living on communal and district heat networks, says that, without price cap protection, some families are paying more than £500 a month in bills.

To make matters worse, although the majority of households are about to receive the final payment of the £400 electricity bill discount scheme, families on heat networks with communal electricity are only just able to apply for financial help. Until now, they have been excluded from the Energy Bills Support Scheme.

It means people living in homes on heat networks, in park homes, or other off-grid homes without a contract with an energy supplier have been left ‘in the cold’ without help over the energy price crisis.

Heat Trust is urging the new Energy Security and Net Zero department to prioritise a proper support package for heat network customers.

Speaking on the new price cap, Stephen Knight, Director of Heat Trust, said: There is already concern over how households will be able to cope with another rise in energy prices on 1st April, but many families on heat networks are already paying at least two to three times as much for their heat as those with domestic gas boilers.

“It adds insult to injury that the majority of households are receiving their final £66 electricity discount payment next month, and yet families with communal electricity are only now being invited to apply for the funds and still may not see a penny for months to come.

“I urge the Government to make extra support a priority in the upcoming Spring Budget."

Ofgem has announced that from 1st April, its price cap would result in average energy prices being capped at £3,280, although the Energy Price Guarantee currently replaces the price cap and is expected to limit average annual energy bills from 1st April to £3,000, with average gas unit costs expected to be around 12.4 p/kWh.

In contrast, some families on heat networks are receiving bills as high as 53 p/kWh for heating and hot water.

Why are heat network customers excluded from the price cap?

Heat networks are not currently regulated by Ofgem and the price they charge for heat is not subject to any price cap. The network operators (usually the building owner/freeholder or an appointed energy company) buy the gas for the communal boilers on the commercial gas market, before creating heat for the homes.

In the past, companies could buy gas more cheaply than individual domestic customers. With commercial gas prices largely unprotected by caps or price guarantees, this is no longer the case and the operators then pass on the high prices to their heat customers.

In July 2022, the Government introduced an Energy Bill into Parliament appointing Ofgem as the regulator for the fledgling heat network industry to ensure fair prices and a reliable supply of heat.

Heat Trust and Ofgem have already been working together to design the regulation for heat networks, but a price cap or similar pricing measure is not likely to be in place for several years.

Heat network customers still face massive heating bills unsupported by any equivalent to the Energy Price Guarantee

Heat Trust has welcomed the creation of a new government department focused on the UK’s energy crisis and is urging ministers to prioritise action for more than 500,000 households still locked out of support with their bills. 

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today (Tuesday, February 7) confirmed that a newly created Department for Energy Security and Net Zero will be tasked with securing the UK’s long-term energy supply and bringing down bills.

The government has also launched a £32 million fund to upgrade heat networks, with a view to improving their efficiency and making them cheaper to run for households.

Stephen Knight, the Director of Heat Trust, the national consumer protection scheme for people living on heat networks, says that while the news is welcome, there are over half a million families living on communal or district heating schemes, many of whom are paying around three times as much for their heat as those with gas boilers because they still have no equivalent financial support to the Energy Price Guarantee, five months after it was promised by government.

He said: “We see the creation of the new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero as a welcome signal that the government is prioritising energy policy, concerns around the market and spiralling bills.

“Heat Trust has long called for investment to improve the efficiency and reliability of heat networks as a way to deal with rising consumer bills. The £32 million fund is a step in the right direction and will help create a better service for consumers.

“However, there is still no effective price support scheme in place for heat network customers, equivalent to the Energy Price Guarantee protecting those with gas boilers - despite this being promised five months ago – leaving many customers paying around three times as much for heat as those with gas boilers.  In practice this means many customers simply cannot afford to heat their homes or run a bath.

 “Some heat network customers, where their landlords also bills them for electricity, are still awaiting news on how they can access the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme that was promised by the government seven months ago.

“Despite promises that support for these households would be available by the end of January, a decision has once again been delayed. We might be in Spring by the time the money reaches families in this situation – we urge the government to make support available now.

“Heat networks hold massive potential for enabling the decarbonisation of heating, but customers must be at the centre of policy choices, so we look forward to hearing updates from the new department. We will continue to work with the government, energy companies, and landlords to ensure we all act in the best interest of consumers and facilitate incoming regulation.”

Salary: Around £40,000 per annum (pro-rata if part-time)

Heat Trust Logo (Plain)

Location: Westminster, and/or remote/home working

Hours: Either Full-time (37.5 hrs/week) or part-time (negotiable)

Contract: Permanent

Closing date: Tuesday 3rd January 2023

Contact name: Stephen Knight

Contact email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contact telephone: 020 3031 8748


Are you searching for an opportunity where you can support the transformation to net-zero, in a way that is just and works for all customers?

Heat Trust is the national consumer protection scheme for the heat network (communal and district heating) sector and acts as an independent, not-for-profit consumer champion.  With statutory regulation promised, we are working closely with Ofgem and government to prepare the sector and to help shape future regulations to improve customer outcomes.

We are looking for a Head of Compliance to help the organisation in its mission to protect heat network customers and support the heat network industry with the transition to regulation.

You would be joining a small, largely home-working, team and therefore would be required to take the initiative and be flexible around the tasks that you take on.

As Head of our Compliance function, you will be responsible for ensuring that Heat Trust registered participants are compliant with our Scheme Rules and that we help heat network operators to prepare for statutory regulation.

See full job description for further details of the role.

What sort of person are we looking for?

  • A commitment to championing customers and their needs, as well as the drive to deliver tangible positive impacts on their lives;
  • Able to work either full- or part-time in the role;
  • Able to work independently, either from our London office or remotely from home, and take initiative (the team all currently work remotely);
  • Strong organisational, analytical and interpersonal skills;
  • Proven expertise in a regulatory, compliance or enforcement environment, with a preference for this expertise to be in the energy sector or other regulated sectors such as water or telecoms;
  • A sound understanding of one or more of the following: regulated energy markets and consumer policy/practice, consumer protection, district/communal heating;
  • Ability to form balanced judgements and to respond to issues proportionately;
  • Confident communicator with ability to sensitively handle difficult conversations, including the ability to firmly and respectfully challenge others;
  • Proven experience in engaging and negotiating with challenging stakeholders, including within adversarial contexts, that can be demonstrated by proven record of high performance and substantial achievements in past positions;
  • A track record of developing and maintaining effective stakeholder relations;
  • Influencing skills to advocate externally on behalf of customers;
  • Understanding when to seek advice/escalate; and
  • Experience of managing external contractors.


Benefits and next steps

In addition to a salary of around £40,000 per annum (pro rata if part-time), we offer 25 days annual leave, an interest free season ticket loan, an interest free bicycle loan and will pay pension contributions of up to 8%.

The role can either be based in our London office or can be home-based.  We will consider applications on either a full or part-time basis.  We are also able to consider any reasonable adjustments that may be necessary for you to succeed in the role.  Please get in touch and let us know whether this would be helpful.

If working with us sounds like something you would be interested in, please apply by sending a CV and covering letter by the closing date to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., setting out how your approach and experience makes you the right person to fill this post.  Please limit your covering letter to no more than two sides.

Due to resource limits, we will only be able to respond to applicants that are called for interview.  The interview process will include either face-to-face or video conference interviews. Please note that you must have the existing right to work in UK.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact Stephen Knight, Managing Director, on (020) 3031 8748 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Government U-turn leaves families facing heating bills double that of those protected by the Energy Price Guarantee

The national consumer champion for heat networks is criticising the government’s decision, announced on Friday, to scrap a promised emergency £100 payment to households on heat networks. It leaves 500,000 homes on communal or district heating systems paying around twice as much for heat as those with their own gas boiler heating system.

While Thursday’s fiscal statement announced some support for struggling families this winter, BEIS has since made a U-turn on specific help for heat networks customers.

Heat Trust, which runs a consumer protection scheme for homes that share communal or district heating systems, is asking the government to think again.

The consumer body previously warned that residents could receive winter heating bills as high as £1,000 a month.

Following the Autumn Statement, Stephen Knight, the Director of Heat Trust, said: “When we heard that the government would be doubling the ‘alternative fuel payment’ from £100 to £200, we thought that finally, it was good news for the 500,000 homes in this situation.

“To hear now that the meagre amount of support that had been promised to heat network customers has been snatched away at the 11th hour is a kick in the teeth for these customers, many of whom have been struggling to pay inflated and un-capped bills for the past year.”

These families are excluded from the Energy Price Guarantee because heat networks are not regulated by Ofgem. Although Heat Trust is already working with the government and Ofgem to design regulation and bring down bills, they say help cannot come soon enough.

Mr Knight confirms he has repeatedly heard promises of extra support from the then Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg during the Second Reading debate of the Energy Prices Bill, as well as from BEIS civil servants since.

“With at least half a million households on heat networks who will have to choose between eating and heating their home, these payments are a lifeline. It’s essential that the government rethink its decision and immediately reinstate this vital support.”

The government plans to expand the number of heat network schemes to cover up to 5 million households as part of its strategy to decarbonise heating.

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Help with heating and energy costs for heat network customers

The UK government has introduced various schemes to help domestic energy customers (i.e. householders) through the recent energy price crisis. There are also existing support schemes for certain customers e.g. those on benefits or receiving a pension, to help them with energy payments. Here we describe the key support schemes and how they apply to heat network customers.

Critically, heating and hot water provided via a heat network is not subject to the Ofgem price cap mechanism nor is it subject to the government's Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) that has provided a subsidy to domestic electricity and gas bills.  Instead support has been provided in the form of energy price subsidies to heat network operators, who have been required to pass-on the benefit to customers.

Government support schemes

General government information on energy cost support is available here and more general information on cost of living help is available on a separate government ‘Help for Households’ website here.

Below we look at the energy cost support schemes and how they apply to those on heat networks.

Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) - heat and hot water bills

This scheme provided energy bill relief for non-domestic customers (including heat networks) in Great Britain between 1 October 2022 and 31 March 2023.

The scheme reduced the price paid for energy by non-domestic customers (such as heat network operators), and legislation made it mandatory for heat network operators to pass on the benefit of these reduced prices to their customers and to notify their customers of how they did this.  For more information on the pass-through requirement, see government guidance.  Customers that believe their heat supplier failed to properly pass on the benefit of this scheme can complain to their heat supplier and the government has provided a template letter for doing so. If they are still not satisfied with their supplier’s response, then they can complain to the Energy Ombudsman, who can provide independent redress.

The impact of the scheme on end user prices will vary depending on the gas contract supply arrangements and the overall efficiency of the heat network.

This scheme also applied to electricity prices for those on communal electricity/private wire schemes.

Heat Networks Energy Bills Discount Scheme (EBDS) - heat and hot water bills

The Government announced that from 1st April 2023 a new, and significantly improved, heat network support scheme will be available to heat networks that will ensure that (in most cases) operators won't have to pay above 7.83p/kWh for gas and 34p/kWh for electricity. The government says that this scheme is estimated to be worth up to £380 million in total, £860 for the average heat network customer.

Operators have 90 days to register with a government online portal (from 26th April) in order to receive the discounted rate. This should see most heat network tariffs fall significantly, although we estimate that many will still be paying around 50% higher unit rates for heat than domestic gas customers. Like the previous EBRS, operators will have to notify customers of the discount and how they are applying it to heat bills.  Customers will also be able to complain to the Ombudsman if they believe their operator fails to do this. 

Also see  Energy Bills Discount Scheme heat network supplier guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) - domestic electricity bills

The Energy Price Guarantee has reduced the unit cost of domestic electricity and gas since 1 October 2022.  It was due to end on 31 March 2023, but was extended until 30th June 2023. The average unit price for dual fuel customers on standard variable tariffs, subject to Ofgem’s price cap, paying by direct debit is limited to 34.0p/kWh for electricity and 10.3p/kWh for gas, inclusive of VAT, under the scheme. It is expected that Ofgem's price cap will bring prices below this level from 1st July 2023.

Most heat network customers will benefit from the EPG in relation to their electricity bills (unless they are on a communal electricity/private wire supply), however heat networks buy their gas as non-domestic or commercial customers, so (like the Ofgem price cap) this scheme does not apply to heat network prices for heating and hot water.

Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS)

The Energy Bills Support Scheme provided a £400 discount to eligible households to help with their energy bills over winter 2022 to 2023.  This was paid automatically via reduced domestic electricity bills in October 2022 to March 2023.

Since February 2023, households on a communal electricity supply (or 'private wire' scheme) have been able to recieve the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme payment via an Alternative Fund.  Online applications for households in England, Scotland and Wales who are eligible for the £400 EBSS Alternative Funding can be made (until 31st May 2023) here. Payments to households that meet the eligibility criteria – including people who get their energy through a commercial contract or who are off-grid – will be made by local authorities in Great Britain.

Means-tested support

Cost of Living Payment

An extra payment to help with the cost of living if you’re entitled to certain benefits (including the state pension) or tax credits. If you’re eligible, you’ll be paid automatically in the same way you usually get your benefit or tax credits. This includes if you’re found to be eligible for a Cost of Living Payment or a Disability Cost of Living Payment at a later date.

You could get up to 3 different types of payment depending on your circumstances on a particular date or during a particular period:

  • Cost of Living Payment, if you get a qualifying low income benefit or tax credits
  • Disability Cost of Living Payment, if you get a qualifying disability benefit
  • Pensioner Cost of Living Payment, if you’re entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment

These payments are not taxable and will not affect the benefits or tax credits you get.

Warm Home Discount Scheme - opens October 2023

Eligible customers could get £150 off their electricity bill for the winter under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

To qualify for this scheme you need to be either in receipt of the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, or on a low income and have high energy costs (or in Scotland meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme).

Cold Weather Payment

This is paid to those in receipt of certain benefits (such as Pension Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, and Universal Credit) during periods of very cold weather.  You’ll get £25 for each 7-day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.

This is paid automatically to those eligible, but it is important to make sure that you notify Jobcentre Plus if you have a baby or child under 5 living with you and are in receipt of benefits, as you might not otherwise get paid this automatically.