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Help to pay your gas or electricity bill

What help can my supplier give me to keep up with energy payments?

If you’re worried about missing gas or electricity payments, contact your supplier first. Your supplier has to work with you to agree a payment plan that suits you.

These include things like:

  • reviewing your bill and agreeing more affordable payments
  • giving you a payment break
  •  reducing how much you pay to give you a chance to catch up
  •  giving you longer to repay what you owe
  • access to charitable grants or hardship funds.
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Support with energy supply and bills if you’re vulnerable

Your gas or energy supplier must give you extra support if you’re vulnerable. For example, if you:

  •  have a disability or long-term health condition
  •  have mental health needs
  •  have hearing or sight loss
  •  are pregnant or have children under the age of five
  • are recovering from an injury or just released from hospital
  • don't speak or read English well or have other communication needs
  • have reached State Pension age.

There could be other reasons why you might be vulnerable, so if you’re not sure you can ask your supplier.

It’s a good idea to sign up to your supplier and network operator’s Priority Services register who look after your gas supply.

The Citizens Advice Extra Help Unit

If you’re vulnerable and having trouble with your bills, you can use the Citizens Advice Extra Help Unit. They can help with bill disputes or other problems paying your bill.

Here’s how to get a referral:

If you live in England and Wales

Call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline free on 0808 223 1133 Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

If you have hearing loss, you can use Relay UK to call the consumer helpline using an app or textphone. Find out how to use Relay UK on the website.

To contact a Welsh-speaking adviser call: 0808 223 1144

You can also fill in this online energy enquiry form

If you live in Scotland

You can use Advice Direct Scotland’s service on the energyadvice.scot website or call them free on 0808 196 8660

Contact your local Citizens Advice

If you live in Northern Ireland

You can contact NI Energy Advice on the NI Housing Executive (Opens in a new window) website or call them for free on 0800 111 4455

If you’re on a pre-payment meter

If you’re worried about  topping up your pre-payment meter, read the guide You can’t afford to top up your prepayment meter on the Citizens Advice website.

It gives advice on how you can get temporary credit from your supplier and best ways to pay it back.

In Northern Ireland, you can get information about emergency credit if you’re on a prepayment meter at PowerNI (Opens in a new window)

How to find out who your supplier is

Find out who your gas or electricity supplier is, and their contact details, on a recent energy bill.

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Try contacting them online. If you don’t get a reply, it’s worth chasing it up.

Switch energy supplier

At the moment, switching energy company might not be the best way to lower your bills. Read more about what to do in our guide What to do if you’re worried about rising energy bills.

Check if you’re entitled to extra government help

Warm Home Discount Scheme

A Warm Home Discount can give you £150 off your electricity bills each year. If you’re on a low income and getting certain means-tested benefits – including Universal Credit – you might be entitled to it.

The discount can also be used for gas bills instead of electricity depending on your energy provider. Talk to your supplier to find out.

If you don’t qualify for the discount with your supplier, see if you can switch to one where you do.

Applications for the Warm Home Discount usually start in October.

Cold Weather Payment

If the weather gets really cold and you already get some benefits, you might qualify for cold-weather payments worth £25.

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Winter Fuel Payment

If you’ve reached state pension age you should also qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment of between £100 and £300. This should be paid to you automatically.

If you don’t receive the payment by 14 January 2022, you’ll need to submit a claim form. The deadline for doing this 31 March 2022. 

Local help to pay energy bills

If you’re going without gas or electricity, your local welfare scheme might help with top-up vouchers. 

Some foodbanks also give out voucher top ups if you’re on a pre-payment meter. You’ll need to be referred to a food bank first.

 You can also get referrals to foodbanks through your local council and other organisations including:

  • local advice centres
  • your GP
  • support workers
  • police.

Local welfare help is given on a case-by-case basis.

Make sure you’ve claimed everything you’re entitled to

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Make an emergency budget

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It’s worth looking at any ways you can cut the cost of your household bills, such as switching providers for your gas, electricity or mobile phone contracts.

If you’ve missed a payment on your gas or electricity bill

If you’ve only missed one payment and don’t have any other debts, talk to your supplier as soon as you can.

The websites below have advice on what you need to do, the action your supplier can take and why it’s important to clear any gas or electricity arrears as soon as you can:

What to do if your energy supplier goes bust

While it’s rare for a big energy supplier to go bust, lots of small energy companies have failed during 2021 and more could go under due to the high price of wholesale gas over the winter months.

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If this happens, the ‘Ofgem safety net’ makes sure you aren’t left without energy.

The safety net moves you automatically to a new energy supplier, onto a new deal.

The deal is chosen using a competitive process and might be slightly more than your previous tariff. You can end your new deal or move to a different supplier whenever you want.

If you owe money to a supplier that has gone bust

If you were in debt to your old supplier, then you will still have to pay what you owe but might have to pay it to your new supplier. Wait for your new supplier to contact you.

If you were in credit with your energy company, then the same applies: you will get the money back, but you should wait for your new supplier to contact you.

When to get debt advice

If you’ve already missed more than one payment can't come to an agreement with your supplier, it’s best to get advice as soon you can, especially if you’ve got other debts as well.

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Extra support if you’re struggling financially and with your mental wellbeing

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Having mental health issues might mean that you struggle to make the best money-based decisions for you, as well as act on them.

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Remember, if you’re struggling financially and with your mental wellbeing, it’s worth getting in contact with your bank, building society, lender or whoever you owe money to, to discuss your options.

However, picking up the phone and talking about your problems is often easier said than done when you’re struggling with your mental health.

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For some general tips on how you can manage your mental health check out Rethink’s guide It covers everything from setting a budget to getting help if you, or someone you care about, is having a mental health crisis.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free, impartial help for all your money and pension choices. Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free, impartial help for all your money and pension choices. Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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