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I find it difficult to pay my fuel bills. Is any help available?

This information applies to England, Wales and Scotland

If you're behind with payments of your gas or electricity bills, contact your fuel supplier straight away.

Your fuel supplier must offer you an arrangement to pay off the arrears at a rate you can afford. Your supplier must offer you a method of payment which is the most suitable for you and they must take into account your ability to pay.

You may be able to arrange to pay off your arrears in monthly instalments. This is called a payment plan. If you're facing disconnection, or haven't been able to keep to a payment plan, your fuel supplier may offer to install a prepayment meter. A prepayment meter will allow you to pay a fixed amount off your arrears at the same time as paying for the fuel you're currently using.

For more information about fuel arrears, see Gas and electricity arrears, in Gas and electricity fact sheet [Adobe Acrobat Document 48 KB].

You may be able to get a grant to help you pay for fuel arrears as well as some other household bills. To find out if you can get this kind of help, visit the British Gas Energy Trust website at: or the EDF Energy Trust website at:

If you are on a low income or considered to be vulnerable, you may be entitled to a rebate on your electricity bill through the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

More on the Warm Home Discount Scheme

If you are a woman who has reached state pension age, or a man who has reached state pension age for a woman with the same date of birth as you, you can get a Winter Fuel Payment to help with your fuel costs. The Winter Fuel Payment is a tax-free payment paid every year. You can spend the money on whatever you want – it doesn't have to go towards your fuel bills.

For more information about Winter Fuel Payments, see Benefits for older people.

If you're on a low income, you may be able to get a cold weather payment to help with your fuel costs during periods of very cold weather. Cold weather payments are made to people on some income related benefits during cold weather. You may be able to get a cold weather payment as well as a Winter Fuel Payment.

For more information about cold weather payments, see Help for people on a low income - the Social Fund.

You should also check that you're using fuel in the most efficient way. This will help to reduce your energy bills.

The Home Heat Helpline offers advice on energy efficiency and fuel debts to low income consumers. You can contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99.

To help cut down on energy bills, you should also make sure that you're paying the lowest price available for your fuel. You may be able to reduce your fuel costs by changing your fuel supplier.

More information on Switching gas or electricity supplier

Other Frequently asked questions about gas and electricity: