If you're worried about energy bills right now, you are not alone.
Recent predictions have forecast the average annual energy bill to hit over £6000 next April - up from £1138 in 2021.
It's getting harder and harder for people to pay, so we wanted to walk you through what will happen if you don't pay or engage with your energy provider, and lay out the help that is available.
If you don’t pay for your energy bills or do not engage with your supplier in any way it is likely they will take action against you. The action they take can vary from company to company, but will probably increase in severity the longer time goes on.
Not paying or engaging with your supplier could result in the following consequences:
Energy suppliers do have the power to cut off your supply, though this is relatively rare. In general, they try other options first such as finding you a payment plan or switching you to a prepayment meter.
You can find more information on the debt collection process and what to expect here.
You may see people advising you to dispute your bill if you don’t feel you can afford the rise in prices.
Please be wary of this advice. If you’re worried about paying for your energy, disputing your bill may not be the best way for you to get help, and could lead to further problems.
If you raise a complaint or dispute, your energy supplier will investigate the issue you have raised to understand if they have mishandled something, or miscalculated your bill. If they find that they have, they will let you know what they can do to resolve the problem which may include revising your owed balance, or providing compensation.
If they do not uphold the complaint or dispute, you will still be liable to pay the debt. On top of this, the energy you use in the meantime will be added to your debt if you have not been paying it.
It is important to check if your bill has increased for a simple reason, or because of the general rise in energy prices, before you dispute. If you are not sure why your bill has increased then you should contact your supplier for an explanation.
If you think you need help, or aren’t sure how to move forward, you could follow our suggested next steps to get started.
1. If you can, keep on top of your bills to prevent debt building up
Getting access to support or looking into a complaint or dispute can take some time to process. If you are not keeping on top of your bills in the meantime your debt will increase and could cause problems for you in the future.
Consider if you could afford to keep paying your bills for the time being, even if you can’t manage any additional repayments towards your debt.
2. If you can’t, contact your energy provider as soon as you can
If you don’t think you can manage to pay anything right now please let your supplier know. There is help available, and if you are struggling they can help you access support.
When you get in touch, your supplier may do the following:
3. See if you can maximise your income
You can find available grants and schemes, as well as ways to maximise your income on our help page here.
4. Consider debt advice
If you’re struggling to deal with your debt, or don’t know how you’ll pay it off, it may be time to consider reaching out to a debt adviser.
A debt adviser may help you by:
There are several free organisations available to help you, with multiple different ways to get in touch, so you can find a way to talk to someone that suits your needs.