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What happens if I don’t pay my electric bill UK? 2022

HomeDebt InfoEnergy DebtWhat happens if I don’t pay my electric bill UK? 2022
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In the current climate, many of us wonder, ‘what happens if I don’t pay my UK electric bill?’ You only need a cursory glance at the news this year to know energy costs are skyrocketing as many struggle to keep up payments. When those red reminder letters start dropping through the letterbox it can seem overwhelming. 

This article will explore what happens if you don’t pay your electric bill and answer questions including:

  • Can you be cut off from electricity?
  • Can I be forced to have a prepayment meter?
  • How far back can electricity companies charge?
  • Do unpaid utility bills affect credit?

Read on to find out the various things that could happen if you don’t pay your electric bill.

Don’t worry, here’s what to do!

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So, what happens if I don’t pay my electric bill UK? 2022   

So, what happens if you don’t pay your electric bill? The cost of your weekly shop continues to rise, transport, services and utilities are getting ever more exorbitant. Ofgem recently announced that the government’s energy price cap will rise by a record 54% in April. 

If you needed confirmation of this soaring inflation, it comes in the form of those pesky bills that drop through your letterbox.

The ever-increasing cost of living is leaving many of us struggling to keep up with payments. This can lead to missed payments. To answer the question, ‘what happens if I don’t pay my electric bill?’, there are several options open to your energy supplier.

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So, what exactly can my energy supplier do if I don’t pay my bill? Well, the energy company could take one of the following steps, depending on your specific circumstances:

·         They could pass your details to a debt collection agency

·         They could seek a warrant to install a prepayment meter

·         If you have a smart meter, they could remotely switch this to prepayment

If you are in debt with your energy supplier and they take any of these options, this can also lead to you incurring additional charges such as administrative costs or the debt collection agency’s costs. Your credit rating can also be affected if the energy company takes any of these actions against you.

The most important step for you to take is to contact your electricity supplier at the earliest possible opportunity. Your supplier is obliged to try and come to a suitable arrangement with you. Initially, this should come in the form of a structured repayment plan. However, if you fail to keep up with this, your supplier could instigate further action.

Let’s take a look into the actions your electricity supplier could take.

Remember, as everyone’s personal situation will differ, it is important only to make decisions that relate directly to your own specific situation. In this guide, I have provided you with an overview of what happens if you don’t pay your electric bill, however, it is important to seek professional advice that is relevant to your situation before making any important decisions about your energy debt.

Can you be cut off from electricity?

This is an option that energy companies generally only take as a final option after all others have been explored. Therefore, if you are struggling to pay your electric bills and are worrying about disconnection, it is important to address your energy company debt and don’t just ignore it hoping that it will go away!

It is encouraging to note that disconnections for debt in the UK fell to almost zero last year.

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Can I be forced to have a prepayment meter?

Electricity suppliers are supposed to offer repayment plans as a first option. However, should you fail to keep up with the payments they are likely to suggest a prepayment meter. If you refuse this and still fail to keep up with payments, your supplier can apply for a warrant to have one installed.

Ofgem’s website informs us that, ‘Suppliers installed 84,000 prepayment meters under warrant to recover customers’ debt last year’. However, it is important to note that certain suppliers, ‘forcibly installed a much higher proportion of meters per head for their newly indebted customers than the industry average’.

Ofgem has expressed concern about how these companies have not been providing sufficient support to help customers pay their debt back. If you believe this to be the case, seek professional advice. Citizens Advice is a good place to start.

It is important to note that you can legitimately object to having a prepayment meter installed. This particularly applies to the elderly and those with an illness or disability that would make it difficult to access, read or use the meter.

Check out our guide to Prepayment Meter Debt.

How far back can electricity companies charge?

Electricity companies are only allowed to charge for any electricity that you have used in the last 12 months. If you have been billed for a full year’s electricity, you can ask your supplier to structure a repayment plan allowing you to pay the amount back over an extended period.

Do unpaid utility bills affect credit?

According to the consumer credit reporting company Experian, your credit rating will only be affected ‘if you miss enough payments that the provider sends your debt to a collection agency or charges off your account, assuming you’re not going to pay it.’

This is because electricity bills are generally not included in consumer credit reports as they’re not considered credit accounts. Therefore, your credit rating will only suffer if your debts are passed to a third party.

Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you to understand what happens if you don’t pay your UK electric bill. I’ve explored some of the issues surrounding non-payment and the possible outcomes of not doing so. The most important thing to remember is that help is always out there, so make sure to seek it out at the earliest opportunity.

Thanks for taking the time to read the article and I hope you find it useful. For more information, you can check out the related articles below.

In debt with gas & electric – What to do, solution & FAQs

Prepayment Electric Meter Debt – 2022 Guide

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