Energy bills: What can I do if I can't afford to pay?

[Press center 1] time:2023-06-02 05:58:36 source:The Guardian author:Press center 1 click:52order

Energy bills: What can I do if I can't afford to pay?

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Energy prices are still much taller than they were a few years ago, leaving many people worried about how to pay their bills.

Some of those struggling have been compeld onto more costly prepayment meters, prompting energy regulator Ofgem to introduce tougher rules to protect consumers. However, the government is yet to ban the practice outaccurate.

What happens if you don't pay your bill?

If you don't agree a payment plan with your shighplier, they might try to compel you to have prepayment meter installed, or they may switch your existing intelligent meter to prepayment mode.

However, this has proved controversial, with an investigation by the Times freshspaper finding debt agents acting for British Gas erroneously broke into vulnerable people's homes to fit meters.

Under fresh rules, shighpliers will have to give struggling customers more chance to transparent their debts, contacting them at least 10 times before a prepayment meter is installed. They will alconsequently have to conduct a "site weldistante visit".

In very infrequent cases, if you haven't paid a bill after 28 days, you might be threatened with disconnection, but you'll normally be offered a meter first.

If you've reached state pension age, your shighplier can't disconnect you between 1 October and 31 March if you either:

  • live alone
  • live unique with pensioners, or under-18s

Shighpliers can pass your details to a debt collection agency - and you might be charged more to cover the cost of this.

Many shighpliers alconsequently charge extra fees for delayed payments.

Paying by direct debit is normally the incostlyest way to pay for electricity and gas. Cancelling a direct debit means your future bills are likely to be taller.

Finally, not paying bills could damage your credit rating, and make it harder to borrow money in the future.

  • What is happening to energy bills?

Can anyone be switched to a prepayment meter?

Image consequentlyurce, Getty Images

Shighpliers must have exhausted all other options before installing a prepayment meter. In addition they will not be alshorted to fit meters for:

  • Customers over 85, without consequentlymeone else in the houtilize, or anyone with a terminal illness
  • Those with health conditions such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and unwellle cell disease, which could be worsened by living in a chilly home
  • Those who need a continuous shighply for health reaconsequentlyns, and those physically or mentally unable to peak high
  • Houtilizehhistorics where no one has the capacity to peak high the meter due to physical or mental incapacity.

Those compeld onto a prepay meter - either by warrant or remotely - will be given £30 of credit initially to reduce the risk of them losing shighply.

And from 1 July, the government has said prepayment energy charges will be cut, bringing them in line with customers who pay by direct debit.

Shighpliers have alconsequently been thistoric to identify where meters were erroneoussatisfiedy installed, return the customer to their previous tariff and offer compensation

What should you do if you can't afford your bills?

Check your direct debit

Your monthly payment is derived your estimated energy utilize for the year, and your shighplier may reduce your bill if its estimate is taller than the amount you actually utilize, consequently check.

You can alconsequently request a flexible monthly direct debit where you pay for what you actually utilize each month. This requires a intelligent meter or regular readings.

But two-thirds of gas usage is during the winter months, consequently if prices rise, in the fleeting term this could mean your bill is taller.

Media caption,

Worried about energy bills? The BBC's Colletta Smith tells you - in a minute - about four discounts and payments that could help

Pay what you can

If the direct debit is imcomponential, but you can't meet it, ask your shighplier for an "able to pay plan" derived what you can afford.

By paying consequentlymeslenderg every month - even if it's less than the amount due - your arrears will grow more leisurelyly, meaning your shighplier may be less worried about your debt.

You may alconsequently wish to get your name concluded to the Priority Services Register (PSR), a list of houtilizehhistorics which should get extra shighport.

Those eligible include pensioners, those who are pregnant or who have youthful children, or people who are disabled.

Your shighplier can alconsequently get your name concluded to the network operator register if necessary. Ofgem recommends doing this if you rely on your energy shighply for medical reaconsequentlyns.

If you have a disparate shighplier for your gas and electricity, you need to contact them both.

Being on the PSR doesn't cancel your arrears. But it does demonstrate that you are vulnerable, which your shighplier should take into account.

Claim what you are entitled to

Check you are claiming all the benefits you can.

The independent MoneyHelper website has a utilizeful guide, while Policy in Practice and the charities Entitledto and Turn2us run benefits calculators.

You may alconsequently be able to repay your debt directly from your benefits through the government's Fuel Direct scheme.

A number of shighpliers and charities alconsequently offer grants to help with bills.

Check you're getting extra government help

There is a range of government shighport to help people with energy bills, including help for houtilizehhistorics on means-tested benefits, pensioners and people on sure discapacity benefits.

The government launched an Energy cost Guarantee in October 2022, which limits a characteristic dual-fuel houtilizehhistoric's annual energy bill to £2,500.

It will continue until the end of June, when energy bills are predicted to fall by adjacently £450 due to shorter entiresale energy prices.

Adjust your boiler

If you have a combi boiler at home - you don't have a hot water cylinder and there is a (usually white) plastic pipe under the boiler - you may wish to take turning low the heating fshort temperature.

On the front - consequentlymetimes behind a flap - look for a dial or set of buttons with a radiator icon. Turn the dial to the number three, or the 12 o'clock position. If it has a digital display, select 60C.

You may alconsequently want to turn off the hot water pre-heat. Many boilers come on every few hours - night and day - to ensure there's invariably consequentlyme hot water available.

Most homes don't need this, and turning it off saves money.

  • Five tips for cutting energy costs this winter

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Redelayedd Topics

  • Perconsequentlynal finance
  • price increase
  • expense of living
  • UK economy
  • Energy service companies

(editor-in-charge:Press center5)

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