In the current financial climate many people can’t pay their energy bill and many of us are falling behind with payments.
Payment Plans and Supplier Support
First of all, if you fund yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is to get in touch with your supplier: regulator Ofgem makes sure your supplier helps you: most usually with an affordable payment plan. Also it’s good to know that under recent pandemic regulations, your supply will not be cut off if you fall behind on your payments.
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.
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 Fund/ Octo 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.
Some good recent news is that households in England, Wales and Scotland can claim up to £350 of Government support this year, including an automatic £200 discount on your bills; while next year will see a £40 per year levy added to bills to help repay the discount.
If you’re in council tax bands A to D, there is a council tax rebate coming into place soon, and also help being put in place for those who don’t qualify for this.
If you have a standard credit meter, the Warm Home Discount is a £140 rebate applied to your electricity bill between October and March. If your energy supplier is part of the scheme, you’ll br 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 assured them you’re a regular payer: it could also save you up to £90 a month.
Finally, it’s worth noting that doing things like leaving electrical products on standby, or the heating on all day, actually 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.