Energy Bills

What happens if you can’t pay your bills?

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What happens if you can’t pay your bills?

What happens if businesses don’t pay their energy bills?

If you haven’t paid a previous bill or you don’t pay a regular amount towards future invoices, you will be in arrears with your supplier. If you’re in debt with your current power provider, it’s counted as a priority debt. This kind of debt carries the gravest consequences so should be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

Businesses that find themselves in this position should take a proactive approach by working out how much they owe and getting in touch with their provider to figure out a payment plan. You should provide a copy of your business’s budget to support your proposed payment plan. Pay as much as you can afford to to reduce the debt and start making payments as soon as possible.

If you don’t attempt to resolve the situation, your energy supplier is within their rights to cut off your supply. However, this is usually a last resort and the utilities company should give you notice before doing this. Having your business electricity disconnected could have disastrous consequences. You would likely have to close your business while you wait for your power supply to be reconnected, which could result in a significant financial loss.

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What happens if domestic customers don’t pay their energy bills?

If you’re a domestic customer who has fallen behind with their energy payments, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. This is understandable, however it’s vitally important that you take measures to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

Start by working out what you owe your supplier and then get in touch with them to discuss drawing up a payment arrangement that suits both parties. The arrangement should cover both what you owe and an amount for your current usage. It’s natural to be worried about approaching a company you owe money to but it’s worth remembering that your energy provider is obliged to work with you to come to an agreeable solution. When determining how much your installments will be, they must take into account how much you can afford to pay and how much energy you’re estimated to use in the future.

If you can’t come to a suitable arrangement, your supplier might try to install a prepayment meter. However, you can object to having a prepayment meter installed in certain circumstances, for example if you have an illness or disability that would make it difficult to access, read or use the meter.

If you haven’t paid a bill for 28 days, you cannot come to a repayment agreement and you refuse to have a prepayment meter installed without good reason, your provider can disconnect your power supply. However, they must give you seven days’ notice before they do this.

Pensioners living alone and pensioners living with children under the age of five should not have their energy cut off between the beginning of October and the end of March. Furthermore, the ‘Big 6’ – Britain’s largest energy suppliers – will not disconnect your power if you have severe financial difficulties, a long-term health problem, a disability or young children that live with you.

Are there any grants to help pay my bills?

There are a number of initiatives that are designed to help people with their energy bills. These include:

Fuel Direct Scheme
If you receive certain benefits, you can apply to have your fuel bills paid directly out of your benefits payments if you’re in financial hardship. You can also use the Fuel Direct Scheme to pay any arrears you have with your fuel provider.

 

Winter Fuel payment
If you’re eligible for the State Pension or certain other social security benefits, you should automatically receive a payment of between £100 and £300 a year to help you to afford your energy bills.

 

Cold Weather Payment
If you’re in receipt of certain benefits or Support for Mortgage Interest, you may be eligible for the Cold Weather Payment.

Under this scheme, you’ll be paid £25 per seven-day period of very cold weather if the average temperature in your local area is forecasted to be or recorded to be zero degree Celsius or below for seven consecutive days.

 

Warm Home Discount Scheme
You could get £140 off your energy bill off your electricity bills in winter if you are in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee or if you’re on a low income. This one-off discount comes off your bill rather than being paid directly to you.

 

Help for businesses – the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
While it might be difficult to find a grant to help you pay your business energy supply, it may be possible to reduce your utility bills by investing in renewable energy. The government-run Non-Domestic RHI is designed to financially reward businesses who take up renewable heat technology such as solid biomass, solar geothermal and heat pumps. Taking simple steps to improve your energy efficiency can also help to reduce your bills.

Can I get a grant to pay my bills?

Fuel Direct Scheme
If you receive one of the following benefits, you may be able to use the Fuel Direct Scheme:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

Winter Fuel Payment
You may be eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment if you were born on or before 5 October 1954. You will get it automatically if you receive the State Pension or certain other benefits (not Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Child Benefit or Council Tax Reduction). If you don’t receive it automatically but you are entitled to it, you will need to apply for it.

Cold Weather Payment
You might be entitled to Cold Weather Payments  if you claim one of the following benefits:

  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support for Mortgage Interest

Warm Home Discount Scheme
You could qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme if:

  • You receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit
  • You’re on low income and meet your energy provider’s eligibility criteria

Non-Domestic RHI
There is a long list of criteria to qualify for the Non-Domestic RHI. For example, the rules dictate that you must be the owner of the installation or have permission to act for the owners if there is more than one, the plant must also be an eligible size and type and no public grants are allowed to be used to pay for the installation unless the money has been paid back already. For further information on the eligibility for the Non-Domestic RHI, see here.

Switch to save
If your business energy bills are too high, you might be able to save money by switching. Compare energy deals today. Alternatively, you can get in touch with our friendly team for expert advice.

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