What happens if I can’t pay my energy bill?

What happens if I can’t pay my energy bill?

What happens if I can’t pay my energy bill?

If you can't afford to pay, here's what to do — and where to get help (Picture: Getty)

If you can’t afford to pay, here’s what to do — and where to get help (Picture: Getty)

Households in the UK apparently owe a staggering total of £1.3 billion to energy companies.

That’s a huge amount, but when it comes to individual households, the cost of gas and electricity – dictated by Ofgem’s rising energy price cap – can also be overwhelming.

In protest, some sign for Don’t Pay UK, essentially ‘striking’ against the cost of living by refusing to pay for their winter energy supplies.

But if you’re in a situation where you can’t afford to pay your utility bill at all, what are your options? And what help is available to you?

Here’s everything you need to know.

What happens if you can’t pay your energy bill?

If you realize that your bills are getting so out of hand that you can’t pay them, the first thing you should do is contact your energy company.

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Energy expert Myles Robinson explains: ‘Notify’ [your supplier] that you want to pay off your debt through an installment plan.

“They should discuss with you how to pay what you owe them and come to an agreement. When entering into an agreement, your supplier should consider what you can afford to pay based on your income, expenses, and any other debts you may have.

“They will also look at how much energy you are likely to use in the future by looking at your past consumption.”

If an amortization plan fails, you may be told (or forced) to have a prepayment meter installed.

Myles, of Boiler Central, continues, “This means you have to pay your energy consumption upfront and make a weekly payment to cover any debts you may have.”

Can your energy supply be cut off if you are unable to pay?

Again, your supplier should offer you the option to pay through a plan, based on your income and expenses.

However, if you are unable to resolve it or if you miss several repayments, in extreme cases your energy supply may be interrupted in the long run.

“Failing to reach an agreement with your supplier could also lead to them seeking a court order so they can visit your home and cut off your power supply,” Myles says.

‘You can do this remotely if you have a smart meter, but your energy company must visit you to map out and assess your situation.’

According to Citizens Advice, most suppliers have signed an agreement called the ‘Energy UK Vulnerability Commitment’.

If your supplier has signed up, you will not be disconnected between October 1 and March 31 if you:

  • Live with children under 16
  • are disabled
  • Have long-term health problems
  • Have serious financial problems
  • Allowing children under 6 years old to live at home

It’s reassuring to know that if you’re struggling to pay, it won’t always affect your credit score, Myles notes — nor will it immediately affect your living situation, unless the utility bills come with your rent. including.

He adds: “If your bills are included in the rent and you stop paying, your landlord may be able to evict you because you are in rent arrears…

‘Missing utility bills will not affect your mortgage, as the loan is agreed directly with your bank or mortgage lender.

“However, not paying your energy bill can make it more difficult to transfer your house or take out a new mortgage in the future and is therefore not recommended.”

Given the above, it’s wise to get ahead of the problem whenever possible – and know what support you’re entitled to.

What help is there for paying the energy bill?

First, there are plenty of smart ways to save money on your energy bill.

It’s definitely a great time to stay on top of all the ways you might be wasting energy and cutting unnecessary use.

But saving energy may only get you this far if you’re really struggling to pay – and of course winter (and the need for central heating) is just around the corner.

It is important to know that help is available.

Firstly, the government provides minimal assistance to every household in the UK.

As part of the Energy Bills Support Scheme, all UK households automatically receive £400 to help with utility bills – split over six months and sent direct to energy suppliers, from October 2022.

Those living in council tax bands A to D previously received a £150 rebate in April 2022 to help with energy bills.

Extra help will also be given to about eight million households on means-tested benefits.

This includes a cost of living allowance of £650 (half paid in July 2022, the second half in the autumn), an additional £300 for retirees already receiving the winter fuel payment, plus a one-off disability living allowance of £ 150, which help about six million.

Every year, not just this year, there are systems to support the energy bill for the elderly or frail people.

They contain:

Under the Fuel Direct scheme, people on benefits can also have energy payments taken directly from their benefits.

If you have a prepayment meter and you cannot afford it, you may be able to get a fuel voucher from your local council or by contacting the Fuel Bank Foundation by calling 0800 023 9922 or 0330 088 5765 Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

You can also send an email to fuelbank@charisgrants.com.

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Suppliers can also provide temporary credit to those who are really struggling. Find out who your energy supplier is and ask if they currently have support for you.

It’s worth researching which of these schemes you qualify for and making sure you get them if you do.

See if there are other areas where you can get support here — such as council tax, grocery shopping, rent, or childcare — potentially freeing up money to cover other bills.

Finally, there are people you can talk to about these and other financial concerns. Not only to get the help you are entitled to, but also to improve things over time.

If debt is affecting your ability to cover bills, get in touch with StepChange – a dedicated debt charity that can provide advice, tailor-made support and help you create a debt management plan .

You can also call Citizen’s Advice’s toll-free energy helpline on 0808 223 1133. It is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm – or use the online form or SMS option.

LAKE : Energy price cap ‘could reach £5,456 next year’, warns most bleak forecast yet

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