What to do if you can’t pay your energy bill – expert advice

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Millions of Britons have been forced to make cut backs on their spending and are anxious about a further rise to the energy price cap coming in October. But even though the crisis appears to have only just started, some have already found themselves struggling to pay higher bills in the worst cost of living crisis in a generation.

If you’re worrying or grappling to get the cash together to keep the lights on, there is help out there.

Energy Helpline have offered Express.co.uk readers exclusive advice on what to do if their bills become too much to handle.

Phil Foster, Owner of Energy Helpline, told Express.co.uk: “If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, there’s a lot of assistance out there, and energy providers are obligated to take into account your circumstances when coming to an arrangement of how you can repay energy debt.

“Increasing numbers of people are finding that they are struggling to pay their energy bill, and the term fuel poverty, which refers to someone who would be left below the poverty line if they paid the amount of their energy bill, now applies to more and more people across the UK.

“Don’t suffer in silence, reach out to organisations who can help you.”

Contact your supplier

The first thing you should do if you’re unable to pay your energy bill is contact your supplier and inform them of your situation, which can prevent nasty surprises like court orders or bailiffs.

Mr Foster explained: “A payment plan is the usual course of action, you will pay affordable amounts over a set period of time, and will pay what you can afford.

“The provider has to take into account your income and outgoings. If you fail to keep up with the agreed schedule, your provider may make you pay for future energy use with a pre-payment meter.”

Fuel Direct scheme

Only available to those on benefits, the Fuel Direct scheme can help you make headway in clearing any energy debt you may have.

Mr Foster explained: “If you’re on benefits, you might be able to repay your debt directly from your benefits through the Fuel Direct Scheme.

“A fixed amount will automatically be taken from your benefits to cover what you owe, plus an extra amount for your current use.”

You can apply for the Fuel Direct scheme through the Pension Service or the Job Centre, depending on which one applies to you.

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Charitable trusts

Energy Helpline advised that some energy companies have set up charitable trusts to help customers pay for fuel arrears.

Some of these are listed on the Turn2us Grants Search, or you can look at the British Gas Energy Trust which can offer up to £1,500 in financial aid to pay your bills.

Amounts differ between providers, so look around and see which ones you are eligible and how much you can get.

Citizen’s Advice

Energy Helpline also strongly advised contacting Citizens Advice if your bill is overwhelming you.

Citizen’s Advice can help you with managing your finances as well as reaching agreements with energy companies on your outstanding debt.

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