Dealing with your priority debts

​Gas and electricity

Warning:

old bills from different addresses

You cannot be disconnected for a gas or electricity bill from an old address if you move home. However, you may find it hard to get an energy supply in your new home from the same energy supplier unless you make an arrangement to pay your debt with them. You may need to use a different supplier for the energy bills at your new address. ​

Gas and electricity companies can cut off your supply in a few weeks if you don't pay them but they should only do t​his as a last resort. They must give you notice first. They cannot cut off your supply unless they have first offered you a range of payment methods to help you pay. It is important to contact them as soon as you know you are going to have problems. You should treat gas and electricity bills as a priority debt.

​Checking who is responsible for the bill

If you are not the person named on the bill (for example, if it is in the name of someone who has left your home), you may not be legally responsible for the arrears up to the date they left. You can argue with the energy supplier that you are not legally responsible for the bill. This should prevent your energy being cut off until the dispute has been sorted out. If you are in this position, contact us for advice.

How do I make an arrangement?

The energy supplier will usually want their bill paid before the next bill is due. You can ask to pay your bills every week, every two weeks, or every month. If you have arrears, phone or write to the supplier and ask for a payment arrangement.

How do I avoid having my energy cut off?

Use your budget summary to support your offer of payment. This must cover the cost of the energy you are using and an amount off the arrears. Even if the supplier does not agree to your offer, start paying what you have offered immediately. Do not offer to pay more than you can afford towards the arrears. All energy suppliers should agree, under their standard licence conditions, to accept an offer of repayment in instalments at a rate that you can afford.

If the first person you speak to is unhelpful, ask to speak to someone more senior.

Ask the supplier for a copy of their code of practice. This explains your rights and how to make a payment arrangement.

Most energy suppliers will not disconnect you if:

  • you agree to a payment arrangement;
  • you agree to have a pre-payment meter installed;
  • the debt belongs to a person who lived in your home before you;
  • it is between October and March and all the adults in the household are over retirement age; or
  • you are considered vulnerable under the Energy UK safety net.

Extra advice:

Ofgem guidelines

Ofgem is the regulatory organisation for gas and electricity. Energy suppliers are bound by Ofgem guidelines that say they should take your circumstances into account when making an arrangement to pay.

Under the Energy UK safety net, member companies will not knowingly disconnect you at any time of year if, for reasons of age, health, disability or severe financial insecurity, you cannot protect your personal welfare or the personal welfare of other members of the household. This means that if you are vulnerable because of one of these reasons, you should not be disconnected.