Why you should contact your supplier immediately about rising energy bills if you are struggling to pay
According to the UK government’s Fuel Poverty Statistics report published in May 2021, around 2.5 million households in England (approximately 10%) are estimated to be in fuel poverty, which is defined as spending more than 10% of household income on the price of energy. With the rising cost of living and pressure on energy companies to even introduce a price cap on goods or services, disputes between customers and energy giants has continued throughout the years, as we continue to struggle to meet the rising price for domestic customers.
In the United Kingdom, it is important to contact your supplier if you are struggling to pay your bills on time. Failing to do so can result in serious consequences, including disconnection of services, legal action, and damage to your credit score.
Here at Niccolo, we ask that you usually tell your supplier’s immediately if you do not think you will be able to pay the set amount on your bills; The first thing to understand is that most utility companies in the UK have a process in place to help customers who are struggling to pay their bills, so you wont have to owe your supplier money for the long term. This is often referred to as a “vulnerability policy” and is designed to provide support to customers who may be experiencing financial hardship, illness, or other difficult circumstances.
Your energy supplier may be able to help you
If you are unable to pay your bills, the first step is to contact your supplier as soon as possible. This can be done via phone, email, or online chat, depending on the company’s preferred method of communication. It is important to explain your situation and provide any relevant information, such as proof of income or medical documentation, to help the supplier understand your circumstances.
Once you have contacted your supplier, they will usually work with you to come up with a payment plan that suits your needs. This may involve spreading your payments out over a longer period of time, offering a discount or rebate, or providing additional support such as energy efficiency advice.
Installing a prepayment meter to pay your energy bills
When someone is struggling to pay for their energy bills, they may consider installing a prepayment meter as a way of managing their energy costs.
Many of those in the energy sector require customers to pay their bills by direct debit, which involves the supplier taking a fixed amount of money from the customer’s bank account each month. For customers on a tight budget, this can be difficult to manage, especially if unexpected expenses arise.
If a customer misses a payment or falls behind on their bills, their supplier may threaten to disconnect their supply, which can be a worrying prospect for anyone struggling to make ends meet.
This is why someone may move onto a prepayment meter to avoid any disputes between consumers and energy suppliers. This way, customers can take control of their energy costs by paying for their energy usage upfront, rather than being billed for it after the fact. A prepayment meter is recognised to help customers budget more effectively and avoid falling into debt or having their supply disconnected.
If you inform your energy supplier that you are unable to pay your recent bills, they may offer a range of options to help you manage your payments and avoid disconnection of services. Here are some of the things your energy supplier could do to assist you:
1. Payment plan
Your energy supplier may be willing to set up a payment plan with you, allowing you to spread the cost of your bills over a longer period of time. This could involve paying a smaller amount each week or month, or deferring payments until a later date; this could mean it will be deducted from your credit at a later date.
2. Deferred payment
Some energy suppliers offer the option of deferred payment, which allows you to delay paying your bill until a later date. This can be useful if you are experiencing a temporary financial setback and need some extra time to get back on your feet. With the cost of living crisis, reaching out to public authorities for emergency credit is a much better option than non-payment.
3. Discount or rebate
Your energy supplier may be able to offer you a discount or rebate on your bills if you are experiencing financial hardship. This could be in the form of a one-time payment or a reduction in your future bills.
4. Energy efficiency advice
Many energy suppliers offer free advice on how to reduce your energy consumption and save money on your bills. This could include tips on how to reduce your heating costs, improve your insulation, or use energy-efficient appliances.
5. Refer you to a debt advice service
Your energy supplier may be able to refer you to a debt advice service, which can provide you with further support and guidance on managing your finances. Debt advice services can help you to negotiate with creditors, set up payment plans, or explore other options for managing your debts.
It is important to note that energy suppliers have a duty to treat customers who are struggling to pay their bills with compassion and understanding. If you are experiencing financial hardship, it is always worth reaching out to your energy supplier to discuss your situation and explore the options available to you.
What if I don’t contact my energy supplier for gas and electricity, or I’m in arrears?
However, if you do not contact your supplier and fail to make payments on time, there can be serious consequences. Here are some of the things that can happen if you do not contact your supplier when you cannot pay your bills:Disconnection of services