Four Steps To Avoid Fuel Debt
- Check that you are claiming all of the benefits you are entitled to.
- If you are unable to pay your bill, contact your supplier and let them know.
- Provide your supplier with a monthly meter reading to ensure you receive an accurate bill.
Smart meters could also help you to find ways to reduce energy waste around the home and save money. The in-home display shows you in near-real-time the amount of energy being used in pounds and pence, allowing you to keep a closer eye on your energy spending habits.
Energy Efficiency and Energy Usage
It’s important that you use the energy you need to keep warm, safe and healthy at home. Making small changes in how you use this could have an impact on bills. For more information on how to save energy, visit here. This site includes energy efficiency advice as well as tips on how to reduce your energy usage.
Warm Home Discount
The Warm Home Discount scheme is a programme that offers support with energy costs to low-income vulnerable households. All of the main energy suppliers are required to participate in the scheme and a number of other electricity suppliers participate on a voluntary basis. This year, eligible households could get a £140 discount on their electricity bills. Householders wishing to enquire about the Warm Home Discount eligibility criteria should contact their energy supplier.
Benefit Entitlement Check
Contact the organisations listed in the ‘Sources of support and advice’ section below to get a benefit entitlement check and debt support. These organisations can also help you to access specific grants and trust funds that some energy suppliers provide to give additional support to some of their most vulnerable customers. These trust funds can help clear energy debt and assist with other essential household costs.
If You Cannot Pay Your Bill
If you are in debt to your energy supplier and struggling to get on top of it, speak to your supplier as soon as possible. If they know there is a problem, they can work with you to find a solution. There are different options available, one is to ask to set up a payment plan and be realistic about what you can afford to repay. You don’t want to leave yourself short for other essential bills.
Sources of Support and Advice
These organisations can help with debt assistance and benefits advice:
• NEA’s Warm and Safe Homes Advice Service: free support service providing advice to householders on your energy bills and keeping warm in your home. Can also help with benefits advice and income maximisation
• StepChange Debt Charity: free independent debt advice and money guidance 0800 138 1111
• National Debtline: free independent debt advice 0808 808 4000
• The Money Advice Service: free impartial money advice to help improve your finances 0800 138 7777
• Citizens Advice Debt Helpline: free advice for all types of debt and money guidance 0800 240 4420
• Turn2Us: help for people in financial need to identify local benefit advisors and grant support 0808 802 2000
Priority Services Register
It’s really important that both your supplier and Distribution Network Operator (DNO) know if you are in a vulnerable situation, so they can include you on their priority services register. This includes people who are of pensionable age, have children under 5, have a disability or long-term medical condition. Being on the register means that you will be prioritised in the event of a power cut and you will receive additional non-financial services such as password security or information in different formats. If you have difficulty contacting your supplier you can register with your DNO first and when prompted give permission for your data to be shared with your gas and electricity supplier. You can find your DNO’s contact details on your fuel bill or by visiting here.
Information kindly provided by Smart Energy GB and National Energy Action.