As energy price rises of up to 7% take effect, Consumer Focus and Citizens Advice launch a new campaign to make people aware of their rights if they fall into debt with their energy company.
Which? is supporting the campaign, and also campaigning to make energy more affordable for everyone. We’re urging the government and the energy companies to ease the pressure on consumers now by offering free insulation and making it easier for customers to switch.
With gas and electricity prices rising and winter approaching, more people are finding themselves in debt to their energy company. Research from Which? shows that energy bills are consumers’ number one financial concern.
Mike O’Connor, chief executive of Consumer Focus said: ‘Your supplier has to help you if you have problems affording your bills and there are discounts and grants available to help you lower your costs.’
Energy debt tips
If you are in debt to your energy supplier:
- Contact your supplier as soon as you realise. It has a responsibility to help you if you’re struggling.
- Tell your supplier what you can afford to pay. It must take this into account when working out repayments.
- Ask your energy company, or Citizens Advice, about other free energy help available. You could be eligible for a discount or free insulation to reduce bills.
- See if you can switch to a cheaper deal. You might not be able to switch supplier, but you could get onto a cheaper tariff with your existing supplier.
- Check whether you’re entitled to extra help. Contact Citizens Advice to find out if you’re eligible for tax credits or benefits.
Energy debts increasing
In spring 2011, new energy debts increased by over a quarter for electricity and a fifth for gas. Last year, 100,000 people went to Citizens Advice to ask for help with fuel debt.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice said: ‘Hikes in price are making a tough time much harder for many.’
In the long-term, Which? is pressing for a more competitive energy market with simpler tariffs to make it easier for consumers to choose the best deal.