If you’re finding it difficult to keep up with your payments for gas and electricity, you’re not on your own. Thousands of people across the UK struggle to keep up every day, and often end up in debt with gas and electric suppliers. You may be worried about having your gas and electric shut off – this is thankfully only a last resort for energy companies, and there is a whole process they go through beforehand, which involves getting you out of debt with gas and electric.

Read on to find out what to do if you’re in debt with gas and electric.

What to do if you’re in debt with gas & electric – next steps

If you’re in debt with gas and electric, there are a few things you can do to get you and your finances back on track. As long as you act quickly and keep a cool head, there is no reason for the debtors to chase you and escalate matters. 

Often, the creditors will do all they can to help you catch up and stay on top of your bills, so be sure to be active.

Gathering information

If you’re in debt with gas and electric, the next thing you will want to do is gather as much information as you can about your debt and what might have happened. 

  • Go through all the letters and emails you might have received from the supplier, and check your bank statements to see when your last payments might have been.
  • You can also see if there have been any additions to your debt. If the amounts don’t add up across your correspondence, you may not have to pay them.
  • Additionally, you might want to make a list of all the money that you have coming in – this can include any wages, benefits or retirement funds that you are being paid. 
  • Once you know what your incomings are, you need to work out your outgoings. Write down all your expenditures – like rent, mortgage, food, travel, insurance and road tax. 
  • Now you will know exactly what your final take-home income is, and you can work out how much you might be able to pay in repayments to your supplier. 

Get in touch with your energy supplier

Your energy supplier will have a set procedure that it follows which is in place to help you manage your payments, so if you get in touch with them as soon as possible, they will be able to help.

The two main things that they can help with is offering an explanation into how you can pay back the money you owe, and offer you a payment plan based on what you can afford. 

When you get in debt with gas and electricity, your supplier will do all they can to help you pay. They won’t know the problems you might be having unless you get in touch with them, so make sure you reach out to them if you are in debt with gas and electric.

Other methods of settling your debt

Once you know how much money you might be able to put towards a repayment scheme, get in touch with your supplier. You may be able to adjust your current bill by estimating your future use, which could significantly lower your utility bill, and you can also discuss repayments. 

Occasionally, if you’re in debt with gas and electric, you can negotiate a deal with your supplier and figure out a scheme of payments that is beneficial to both of you. The supplier will, of course,  want their money, and you don’t want to be cut off. 

You could use our free letter template to send to your energy supplier to renegotiate your current repayment plan if your current one is unaffordable.

If you don’t get to this stage, you may be able to arrange to have a prepayment meter installed. This is where you put on the amount of money you believe you will end up using. This is definitely a last resort for suppliers, but it can happen if you don’t agree to a plan with them, or you don’t stick to a plan that you had both agreed on.

Disconnection

If you’re worried about getting cut off completely, it’s worth knowing that this only happens in very rare occasions. Your supplier will always try and get a prepayment meter installed before going through the disconnection process, as this process is lengthy and costly. 

First and foremost, your supplier will send you a note stating that they are applying to the court about your case. If this happens, get in touch with your supplier as soon as you can, as you can still try and come to an agreement even at this late stage. 

The supplier won’t need a warrant to disconnect your utilities, but they will send you notice of when they will be coming to disconnect your supply.

FAQs

Now you know the basics about what to do if you’re in debt with gas and electric. The best thing to do is to get in touch with your supplier as soon as you find out that you’re in debt with gas and electric. We’ll answer some of the more frequently asked questions about debt in general below.

Can I get into debt on a prepayment meter?

No. If you are on a prepayment meter, you won’t be at risk of getting in debt with gas and electric. There are a few downsides to prepayment meters though, in that if you run out of credit, you won’t receive any more gas and electric. The rates are also higher too.

If I receive benefits, can I use these to pay my debt?

Yes. If you receive benefit payments, you can arrange to pay off your debt using what is known as a third party deduction. This is when you pay off your debt by making deductions from your weekly benefits payments. There are some risks with third party deductions – you can read more about them on StepChange, a charity dedicated to debt and financial issues. 

I’m struggling to pay – are there any other services offering help?

Yes. If you are having financial difficulties, you may be able to find a grant or a scheme from a number of different energy companies. For instance, British Gas Energy Trust is open to anyone and offers grants and schemes to help you out if you’re struggling. You can also get in touch with the following charities who offer free and confidential financial advice: 

About the author

Scott Nelson

Scott Nelson is a financial services expert, with over 10 years’ experience in the industry, including 6 years in FCA regulated companies. Read more
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