Contact your current energy supplier as soon as possible if you are having trouble paying your gas and electricity bills.
Find out if it can offer you any ways to reduce your bill, such as paying by monthly direct debit or signing up for an online tariff.
You should also start taking energy saving measures – see our tips for using less electricity and our guide to planning an effective budget.
Affordable energy bills
If you still can’t pay your energy supplier, then 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 so they won’t do so if you agree a regular payment plan with them and then keep to it.
Check your energy company’s code of practice to find out its policy on helping vulnerable customers. You can do this by checking the About Us section of your gas or electricity supplier’s website, or by giving the company a ring on one of these specialist phone numbers:
Eon – Caring Energy Team – 0800 051 1480
EDF – Priority Service Team – 0800 269450
SSE – Careline – 0800 622838
Scottish Power – Carefree Response – 0800 027 0072 (from landlines) or 0345 270 0700 (from mobiles)
Npower – Warm Response Service – 0808 172 6999
British Gas – 0800 072 8625
Energy suppliers should be willing to set up a payment plan for debt that suits you, even if you have been threatened with disconnection. Debt can be repaid through a variety of means including:
Fuel Direct – a scheme where energy payments are made direct from state benefits (more information below).
Prepayment meter – but these are usually far more expensive so ask about other options first.
British Gas, EDF and Npower have set up independent charitable trusts to give grants to some customers to help them pay for fuel arrears.
Debt after poor billing
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.