30th July 2021
Struggling to pay your energy bills? We’ll show you what you can do to get help.
This might feel like the last thing you want to do, but you’re not alone – research from Citizens Advice in August 2020 found that six million (one in nine) people in the UK have fallen behind with household bills because of coronavirus.
Get in touch with your energy supplier to find out whether it can offer you any ways to reduce your bill, such as paying by monthly direct debit or signing up for an online tariff.
If you still can’t afford to pay, there are things you can do. Read on to find out more.
If you find yourself unable to afford your bills, contact your supplier rather than just cancelling your direct debit. You should be able to work out a plan that could include your bill payments and/or debt payments being reassessed, reduced or paused, though exact policies vary between suppliers.
Energy suppliers are prevented from disconnecting prepayment meters during the outbreak, regardless of your ability to pay for your energy.
If you have a prepayment meter and are currently unable to top it up, contact your supplier to work out how to keep your energy supply. Potential solutions can include:
Bear in mind that you'll eventually need to pay back any credit your supplier gives you.
For more information about how to manage your energy payments during the pandemic, and what different energy companies are doing to support their customers, read our about the government's instructions to energy suppliers during the coronavirus crisis.
Contact your supplier to explain your situation, and offer to pay an amount you can afford.
All energy suppliers follow a code of practice that means they must take certain steps before cutting off your supply. Your supplier won't cut you off if you agree a regular payment plan with it and then stick to it.
Check your energy company’s code of practice to find out its policy on helping customers who find themselves in difficult circumstances. You can do this by checking the help or FAQs section of your gas or electricity supplier’s website, or by giving the company a ring on one of these phone numbers:
Energy suppliers should be willing to set up a debt payment plan that suits you, even if you've been threatened with disconnection. You can repay debt through a variety of means, including:
Inaccurate and erratic billing can cause people to inadvertently run up debts. For example, if you receive a large bill but it’s the first bill you’ve had for some time, contact your supplier.
It should be able to arrange repayment of the debt over the same period in which it accrued. So if you haven’t had a bill for 12 months, you could get 12 months to repay.
Energy suppliers can’t back-bill you for energy you used more than 12 months ago, as long as they were at fault – for example, by not sending a bill when you asked, or billing you incorrectly. Find out more about .
The only exception is if you actively prevent your supplier from taking or receiving accurate meter readings – by tampering with your meter, for example.
The energy regulator Ofgem revealed that customers in debt build up an average of £600 in unpaid gas and electricity bills before their energy supplier steps in to help them pay it back. Some suppliers let the debts build up to as much as £800.
Don’t wait for your energy supplier to step in; contact it when you know you’re struggling to pay your bills to stop a big debt building up.
There are various benefits and schemes that can provide help to pay your energy bill. Click the link to find out more, and whether you're eligible.
Depending on your personal and financial situation, you could be eligible for benefits to help you keep up with your bills and household expenses. Check whether you qualify for financial help through the benefits system using the .