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All The Things You Can Do If You Can’t Pay Your Energy Bill

Vicky Parry 29th Apr 2024 No Comments

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Article updated 29th April 2024

In the current financial climate, many people can’t pay their energy bill and are falling behind with payments. There are things you can do to make sure your energy debt doesn’t overwhelm you.

Payment Plans and Supplier Support

First of all, if you fund yourself struggling to pay your energy bill, the best thing to do is to get in touch with your supplier: regulator Ofgem makes sure your supplier helps you. This is usually with an affordable payment plan. It’s also good to know that your supply will not be immediately cut off if you fall behind on your payments – your supplier has to offer you a payment plan and go through a number of steps before your supply is at risk.

It is important to make sure your supplier has an accurate bill – many people rely on estimated bills that can wildly overestimate what you owe. Take readings regularly and keep submitting them, even if you’re behind on payments, because tariffs can change and without an accurate record of how much energy you used and when, you could be overpaying. For example, if your variable tariff has 15p per kwh in April, and it goes down to 12p per kwh in May, but you only submit readings in January and June, you’re missing out on reduced rates.

More Payment Plan Help

As well as a payment plan review, you may in certain circumstances be able to arrange reduced payments or a payment holiday.

If you prepay your energy bills, similarly your supplier can help, including £5 of emergency credit on both your gas and electricity meter, accessible by entering the card or clicking a button when the option pops up – this will have to be repaid when you top up.

Friendly credit also means you won’t be cut off if your credit runs out on evenings, weekends and bank holidays when the shops are closed.

If you can’t afford to keep the meter topped up, you may be eligible for additional support credit (or extra support credit): again, contact your supplier. This may also apply to the vulnerable: pensioners, disabled customers or those with a long-term medical condition.

Ofgem has introduced protective measures to ensure customers have access to discuss this kind of help with their supplier, on a case by case basis.

If you outright can’t pay your energy bill, you may also be eligible for hardship funds, depending on your circumstances and ability to pay. Again, get in touch with your supplier to begin the process.


Charitable Trusts

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There are also many charitable trusts and funds offering schemes and grants to help with your energy costs, faulty or old boilers, or to help make your home more energy-efficient.

A good starting point is the British Gas Energy Trust as they’ll help support not just their own customers, but those with any supplier.

There’s also more specific customer help from: EDF Energy Customer Support Fund / E.on Energy Fund / E.on Next Energy Fund / Ovo Energy FundOcto Assist Fund / Scottish Power Hardship Fund.You may need to get help applying to these schemes as they can be fairly complicated procedures. Most require you to have spoken to a debt advisor and worked out your income and expenditure in detail, ready to present your case. You can get help from some charities to do this.

Government Support

If you have a standard credit meter, the Warm Home Discount is a £150 rebate applied to your electricity bill between October and March. If your energy supplier is part of the scheme, you’ll be notified of how this will be applied to you.

Another way to save on bills is to pay by monthly direct debit, which earns interest on overpayments for the supplier, and assures them you’re a regular payer: it could also save you up to £90 a month. If you pay by direct debit, you might find you bank a lot of credit in the summer months. This can be claimed back if you need it, but remember your winter bills will be higher and the surplus is designed to cover it.

Finally, it’s worth noting that doing things like leaving electrical products on standby, or the heating on all day, drives your bills up, so look around you home and see where you can cut costs by switching things off and carefully regulating your output.

What Jasmine Says

MoneyMagpie’s Jasmine Birtles says, “If you can’t pay your energy bill firstly don’t feel alone – you are one of many in the country who are really struggling to pay. Secondly get in touch with your energy provider immediately. They all have sections of the business that are there to help people who can’t pay their bills for one reason or another. It’s possible that they will be able to reduce your bill or spread it over a longer time period to enable you to pay. Also they might put you on a meter so that you only pay as you use the energy. This can help you with budgeting although the downside is that it tends to be more expensive than being on a contract.

“Also there are some energy-related benefits that you may be entitled to. Use the benefits calculator at Entitledto or Turn2Us to see if there’s anything you could apply for and also speak to your local Council to see if they have any hardship grants that could help you get over this particular financial pressure.”

MoneyMagpie also take a look at all the other things you may be eligable for financial help with here.

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Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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