Can you help me if I’ve gone into debt?
We appreciate that you may have trouble paying your bill from time to time. If you find yourself in this situation, please contact us. We can work with you to find an affordable way for you to manage your bills.
What happens if I’m struggling to pay my bills?
If you’re struggling to pay your energy bill, we will:
- Inform you that you’re in debt and ask you to contact us
- Assess your vulnerability, hardship status and ability to pay
- Come to an arrangement that enables you to pay, e.g. through a debt repayment plan
- Or install a prepayment meter
When will we take further action?
If we’re unable to contact you using the details you’ve supplied, you fail to agree to any of our payment solutions or you do not keep up with agreed payments, we will take action to recover the debt.
In the first instance, we may arrange for a third-party debt collector to visit your home to discuss your payment options. If you decline this or they’re unable to speak with you, we will apply for a warrant to access your property to install a prepayment meter.
Ultimately, failing to pay your debt could result in legal action, such as a high court order for financial recovery which is why we ask that you contact us as soon as possible so that we can work with you to help you
What is a prepayment meter?
A prepayment meter puts you in control of how much you’re spending on energy. Similar to pay-as-you-go mobile phones, it allows you to top up your account with credit that is used up as you consume energy.
Installing a prepayment meter
If a prepayment meter is installed to collect your debt, we will provide information on:
- Using your prepayment meter
- Meter charges and any other costs you must pay
- Outstanding balance and amount of debt that will be recovered each week
- Amount of emergency credit available on your meter and how it works
- A telephone number for emergencies and advice
- Charges for replacing lost or damaged keys
Find out more about installing a prepayment meter.
What is the Fuel Direct Scheme?
If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills and receive benefits such as Pension Credit, Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance, you may be able to arrange for a fixed amount from your benefits to be paid towards your bills. This is called the Fuel Direct Scheme or Third Party Deductions.
How do I arrange for my benefits to help me pay my bills?
To arrange for help paying your energy bills from your benefits you will need to contact the relevant centre, for example, if your claiming Jobseekers allowance you should contact your Jobcentre Plus.
You will need to tell them:
- How much you owe and the name of your energy supplier
- Your account or customer number for your energy supplier
- Your National Insurance number
Once you’ve done this, they’ll get in contact with your energy supplier to arrange for some of your benefits to be paid towards the amount you owe.
How will the money be deducted from my benefits?
The amount deducted depends on the benefits you receive and the bill you’re paying off.
If you receive universal credit and are paying off an electricity or gas bill 5% will be deducted towards the amount you owe until you’ve paid it back.
If you get other benefits such as Jobseekers or Pension Credit £3.70 will be deducted from each benefit to pay off what you owe, with an extra amount also being taken to cover your current bill. This amount will be decided by the Jobcentre Plus or pension centre however if it’s more than 25% of your benefits they’ll ask you to agree the amount.
Will being in debt affect my credit rating?
If you enter our debt collection process, we will share payment performance information with credit reference agencies. Your credit rating will be affected, which could impact your ability to obtain credit in the future.
Help for vulnerable customers