Advice on Energy Debt
This guide is intended to provide general guidance only. It is not intended to give you advice on your personal financial circumstances. You should seek independent professional advice if you’re unsure about anything mentioned in this guide or what choices to make.
Some Impartial Advice on Energy Debt
If you’re finding it difficult to pay for your gas and electricity, you’re not alone. Right across the UK, thousands of people are struggling to keep up with their energy bills.
You may be worrying about having your electricity cut off, but this really is a last resort for the energy companies. Before that happens, they will do all they can to help you catch up and stay on top of your bills.
That’s why, if you’re falling behind with your energy payments, the first thing you should do is get in touch with your supplier.
How can my energy supplier help me?
Energy suppliers have to follow set procedures to help you manage your payments. They must:
- Explain how you can pay back the money you owe
- Offer you a payment plan based on what you can afford
What do I need to do?
- To start with, make a list of all the money you’ve got coming in (your wages, benefits, pension etc)
- Then write down what you regularly spend each month – on your rent or mortgage, food, travel, groceries, toiletries, travel costs and so on
- Also add in any large one-off payments that you have to meet – such as insurance or road tax
Use this list to agree an affordable payment plan for your energy debt. Don’t let your supplier set a payment level that you can’t manage.
What kind of payment plan will they offer me?
Monthly payment set over an agreed period-of-time depending what tariff you are on.
Some of the money will be used to pay for the gas and electricity you’re currently using, and some will go towards your energy arrears.
This gives you a way to repay your debt gradually over time, so you don’t have to find large lump sums that could make your problems worse.
Together Energy disconnection policy
Sometimes our customers fall behind with their payments. Many energy suppliers disconnect meters and install a repayment meter.
We believe we can arrange a suitable repayment plan without disconnection.
We will always aim to
- Help our clients make their payments.
- Tell them where they can get independent advice.
- Give them every opportunity to pay their debt.
How can Together Energy help if I have trouble making my payments?
If we know you’re struggling to keep up with your energy bills, we can:
- Set up a payment plan for you, with regular affordable instalments.
- Share impartial advice from experts like the Energy Saving Trust on how to save energy
How will you decide what kind of repayments I can afford?
When we set your monthly repayments we’ll do our best to find a manageable amount for you. If possible, we’ll talk to other people who know you or who’ve visited your home, such as your social worker or carer, and ask them what would be reasonable payments for you.
Would it help to switch suppliers?
No matter which energy company you’re currently with, it’s always worth checking the market regularly to see if you could save money by switching. Thousands of people in the UK are still paying expensive tariffs because their suppliers haven’t bothered to tell them about better deals that could help them.
At Together Energy, we don’t think that is fair so:
- we have some of the cheapest 2 and 3 year deals on the market so you can lock in prices for a longer period
- we advise customers annually if we think they can get a better deal with another supplier
- our renewal agents will always be happy to complete a price comparison for you
Can I change my gas or electricity suppliers even if I’m in arrears with my energy bills?
Many people think they can’t switch to a new energy supplier if they’re in fuel arrears.
In fact, you can, however, if you owe more than £500, you’ll need to reduce your debt to £500 before you can switch.
Are there any grants and allowances that could help me get through the winter?
Cold weather payments
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) provides a special cold weather payment, to help qualifying households manage when the temperature falls below zero for seven days in a row.
You’ll almost certainly qualify for DWP cold weather payments if you get Pension Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
Winter fuel allowance
If you’re old enough to get a state pension, you could get the winter fuel payment (also known as the winter fuel allowance), a tax-free heating allowance. It’s a yearly one-off payment that isn’t linked to temperature, and if you’re on a state pension you’ll get it automatically.
Warm home discount
Unfortunately, due to industry requirements to be a certain size of energy supplier we are unable to support Warm Home Discount.
However, when compared to the larger suppliers we offer more competitive tariffs and the savings over a year are more than the Warm Home Discount.
How can I use less gas and electricity?
Here are some affordable ways to save energy in your home:
- When you boil a kettle, only use as much water as you need
- Turn appliances off at the wall – don’t leave them on standby
- Use energy-saving light bulbs
- Defrost your freezer regularly
- Make draught excluders for outside doors, windows and letterboxes.
- When using your washing machine, never set it higher than 30˚
Where can I get independent advice and help with energy debt?
There are various places where you can ask for help and advice on fuel debt. We’ve listed some of them here, and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau will be able to tell you about others.
Home Heat Helpline Telephone: 0800 33 66 99
Telephone: 08454 04 05 06
Textphone: 18001 08454 04 05 05
StepChange Debt Charity
Telephone: 0800 138 1111
Energy Supply Ombudsman
Telephone: 0330 440 1624
Textphone: 0330 440 1600
Telephone: 0808 808 4000
I have called the call centre twice and on both occasions, I have been very impressed by the speed at which it was answered (there was no hold or automatic option menu – I hope that as they grow they can keep this)