What Happens If I Don’t Pay My Energy Bill In The UK?
With the rising costs of living, a lot of people are concerned about making choices between paying their bills and bringing food to the table. The purpose of this article is to explain the consequences of not paying your energy bill in the UK. However, with many options available to those who are struggling to meet living expenses, we will also discuss these options that one may avail, either through government support or by taking help from charitable organisations.
What Happens If I Don’t Pay My Energy Bill In The UK?
If you don’t pay your energy bill in the UK, you could face a number of consequences. These include the following:
- you could have your electricity cut off
- you could be disconnected from gas and water
- you could be asked to pay a higher rate for the energy you do use
- your credit rating can be affected if your energy supplier reports you to a credit agency
- if your energy bills are included in the rent and you are unable to pay them, your landlord may evict you on the grounds of rent arrears
Gas and electricity bills are classified as priority bills. This means that if someone does not pay these bills on time or skips payments altogether, there can be severe consequences. These include the following:
- the supplier can ask a debt collection agency to recover the unpaid amount of bills from consumers
- the supplier can get a court order to enter homes and have a prepayment card meter installed to collect arrears
- if your bill remains unpaid for 28 days and you can’t come to a repayment agreement plan with your supplier, they can cut off your supply after giving you a 7-day notice
Many energy suppliers charge an extra fee for later payments. Since consumers will eventually have to pay the dues on their energy bills, having a larger sum built up as debt also means that there will be a larger late payment surcharge to be paid as well.
Additionally, a lot of people choose to pay their energy bills through direct debit as it is the cheapest option for bill payment. If you stop paying your energy bills by cancelling your direct debit service, repayment of dues and future payments will be higher.
With energy bills expected to rise to more than £3,300 per year by the end of 2022, it is advisable to seek guidance and support from your energy supplier and the Citizens Advice Centre so that you do not have to go into energy debt and run the risk of having your energy supply cut off during the winter months when it is needed the most.
What Should I Do If I Can’t Pay My Energy Bills?
If you know that you will not be able to pay your energy bills sometime in the near future, the first thing for you to do is to contact your supplier and ask them what they can do to help. They may be able to offer an affordable payment plan to make it easier for you to pay your bill in instalments or provide other assistance. Some of the potential options include the following:
- the supplier can conduct a review of your payments and debt repayments
- they may offer payment breaks or reductions (where possible)
- they may extend the due date for payments and offer you more time to pay
- they may provide access to hardship funds or advise you on how to gain access to them
- they may provide advice on how to use less energy to reduce your energy bills in the future
If you are on benefits, you can avail the Fuel Direct Scheme to pay your energy debts through a direct deduction from your benefits payments.
If your energy suppliers are unable to help, there are other organisations that provide financial assistance for individuals through grants.
With the rising costs of living in the UK, nearly 120,00 people have contacted Citizens Advice to seek advice regarding energy debt during the first quarter of 2022 alone. They have further stated that the current value of energy debt doubles that of how it was in 2019. Considering these figures, you may consider discussing your situation with them to come up with a financial plan so that you are able to make your energy bill payments.
Can I Ask The Government For Help If I Can’t Pay My Energy Bill In The UK?
Yes, you can ask the Government for help if you can’t pay your energy bill in the UK. In fact, the Government has announced the Energy Bills Support Scheme for households struggling to pay their energy bills in the UK. This is a £400 non-repayable discount to help with energy bills from October 2022. You will not have to inquire about this from your energy supplier as all domestic consumers in the UK will be provided with the discount automatically.
In addition to this, you can check with the DWP if you qualify for the following benefits and apply to avail of them:
- Winter fuel payment
- Cold weather payment
- Warm home discount
- Household support fund
According to data shared by Citizens Advice, rising energy debts in the current year project a worrisome figure. Therefore, if you are unable to pay your energy bill in the UK, you should know are not alone. Since the consequences of not paying your gas and electricity bills can be as serious as having a debt collector visit your house to having the energy supply disconnected, it is best to consider alternative modes of payments through government support or grants to make these payments.
FAQs: What Happens If I Don’t Pay My Energy Bill In The UK?
Can electricity be cut off if the bill is not paid?
Yes, your electricity supply can be cut off if your bill is not paid. If your bill remains unpaid for 28 days and you can’t come to a repayment agreement plan with your supplier, they can cut off your supply after giving you a 7-day notice.
What do I do if I can’t afford my energy bill?
If you can’t afford your energy bill, the first thing you should do is talk to your supplier to agree on an easy payment plan. Otherwise, you can pay your energy bill from your benefits payments by accepting a reduced amount or you can apply for a grant through a charity.
How long can energy companies chase you for debt?
Energy companies can chase you for debt collection if you have unpaid bills of up to six years.
Does unpaid energy bill affect credit?
Unpaid energy bills can affect your credit score if they become a debt and you are unable to agree with your supplier on a repayment plan.
What happens if you don’t pay your British Gas bill?
If you don’t pay your British Gas bill, your details will be shared with a debt collection agency and this will affect your credit score.
What happens to your credit score if you don’t pay
Serious consequences for not paying energy bills, warn UK charities | UK cost of living crisis | The Guardian
What to do if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills – Citizens Advice
Getting help if you can’t afford your energy bills | Ofgem
UK energy bills could hit more than £3,300 a year this winter