Dealing with fuel bill debt
On this page we explain what to do if you're falling into fuel bills debt and offer ways that might make paying the bills a bit easier.
Don't get disconnected
If you're falling into fuel bill debt it's important that you take steps to make sure you don't get disconnected.
If you live in England, Scotland or Wales you should contact your supplier to register as a vulnerable customer on their Priority Service Register. Being on the register means you will not be disconnected.
Energy suppliers in Northern Ireland may operate their own schemes for older, disabled or chronically ill customers. Check with your supplier to find out more.
If you are facing disconnection
Ask your energy company for their code of practice. The code of practice will include steps the supplier must follow before disconnection.
The supplier must offer a number of options to pay the arrears, including regular payment plans or other alternatives if you cannot pay arrears in this way.
Try to get advice from a local advice service. Our freephone helpline can provide details of your nearest advice service. Depending on where you live, we may also be able to put you in contact with a specialist debt counselling service for families with disabled children.
Choosing the right payment plan
Contact your energy supplier to talk about different ways that you can pay your bill. Some suppliers will give a discount if you pay by a particular method.
Think about using payment plans that spread the cost, which can help you avoid arrears. Take care to check the terms and conditions of each payment plan.
Getting fuel costs deducted from benefits
If you are on:
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Pension Credit
you may be able to pay for your current fuel usage through your benefits. This is known as fuel direct. To set up fuel direct, contact JobCentre Plus or your pension centre if you receive pension credit.
Change your meter
You might be able to make savings by using a different type of meter. For example, prepayment meters allow you to pay in advance for your fuel usage rather than using more than you can afford.
There are advantages and disadvantages involved with each type of meter. Check with your local Citizens Advice Bureau for more information about the advantages and disadvantages of meters.
Call our advisers on our freephone helpline if you need help, 0808 808 3555 and we will point you in the right direction.