Why is this important?
Struggling to pay your energy bills
If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills or get a bill you can’t afford, take steps to sort out the problem as soon as possible. If you don't pay your gas and electricity debts, you risk being cut off.
If you have other debts or money problems, get help to sort them out too.
This page explains what you should do if you’re having trouble paying your bills or are in debt to your supplier.
Other money worries?
If you have energy arrears you may also have other money worries. There's lots of information to help you sort out your money and debt problems in our Debt and money section.
You can also get help with your debts from an experienced money adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau.
Contact your supplier
Contact your energy supplier as soon as you have a problem paying. Explain the situation and ask if you can come to an agreement about how to pay off your arrears.
Energy suppliers have to follow certain rules when dealing with customers who are in arrears with their bills. They should:
- give you advice on how to pay back any money you owe
- offer you a payment plan based on what you can afford to pay.
Work out what you can afford to pay
Do a budget listing all the income and outgoings for your household. Don’t agree to pay an amount you can’t afford.
Agree a payment plan
Your supplier will arrange a weekly, fortnightly or monthly payment plan. The amount you pay will include:
- an estimated amount for the fuel you currently use
- an amount for the arrears.
Your supplier shouldn't try to get you to clear the arrears any faster than you can afford to.
If your supplier tries to make you pay an amount you can’t afford, they may be going against their licence conditions, and you can make a complaint about them.
- To work out how much you can pay, use our budgeting tool
If you can’t keep to the payment plan
If you can’t keep to the payment plan you’ve agreed with your supplier, they may decide to install a prepayment meter.
If you’re on benefits
If you're on certain benefits, you can arrange to pay your fuel arrears direct from your benefit. This scheme is called fuel direct. You must be getting on of the following benefits to qualify for fuel direct:
- income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income Support
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit.
The amount you pay is fixed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Fuel direct is often cheaper and more convenient than a prepayment meter. And you won't run out of gas or electricity.
To arrange fuel direct, get in touch with Jobcentre Plus and your fuel supplier. Jobcentre Plus will contact your supplier to check that they agree with you paying this way.
- You can find details of how to contact Jobcentre Plus at www.gov.uk
If you have special circumstances, you could try to get a grant from an energy charitable trust, to help you pay off your arrears.
- For more information, visit www.edfenergytrust.org.uk
- Schemes booklet from www.britishgasenergytrust.org.uk
- What to do if your energy supplier is threatening to disconnect your gas or electricity
- Complaining to your energy supplier
- If you need more help
Other useful information
The Home Heat Helpline
The Home Heat Helpline offers advice on energy efficiency and fuel debts to people on a low income. The Helpline can also make sure that if you're in one of the groups of people who should get extra protection from disconnection, you're not at risk of being cut off. You can contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99.