Help if you’re struggling to pay your gas or electricity bill

Your current gas and electricity bills are considered priority debts. If you’re struggling, contact your suppliers and let them know. It’s important to not stop paying these bills. Missing payments might lead to pre-payment meters being fitted or your supply being disconnected. It will also affect your credit score, which might make it hard to get credit in future.

Paying for gas and electricity if you’ve had a significant drop in income and don’t expect it to recover quickly

Not being able to afford to heat or power your home can be worrying. But there's help available if you’re struggling.

It’s important to get in touch with your supplier and ask for help before you miss a payment.

If you’re struggling with money or repaying a debt, options might include:

  • reviewing bill payment plans, including debt you might be repaying in instalments
  • payment breaks, or reductions in how much you pay
  • having longer to repay what you owe
  • access to hardship funds (in exceptional cases), and
  • using a pre-payment meter — you pay for your gas or electricity before you use it. While this can be a useful way to budget, you might find that it runs out of credit if you are unable to top-it up. 
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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.

Getting extra help – as well as the emergency coronavirus package

The government has launched an emergency package with energy suppliers to make sure you can heat and light your home.

If you pay for your energy after you’ve used it, you have a credit meter.  Suppliers have also suspended disconnecting credit meters during the pandemic. Find out more information about new measures for coronavirus on the Ofgem website

There are other discounts and schemes that you might be entitled to. If your income has dropped drastically, you might qualify for some of the help outlined below.

Switch energy supplier

You can save up to £300 a year by switching energy tariff or moving to a new supplier. There are lots of energy suppliers out there competing for customers – so shop around for a cheaper deal.

If you’re on a prepayment meter

It might be possible to switch suppliers to a better deal if you’re the account holder. If you have arrears of less than £500, you should be able to switch suppliers in the same way as those on a credit meter.

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Warm Home Discount Scheme

A Warm Home Discount can give you £140 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.

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

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Local help to pay energy bills

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

Contact your local council to see what help is available.

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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.

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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:

When to get debt advice

If you’ve already missed more than one payment and are not able to come to an agreement with the provider, 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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Most places that you owe money to have policies about supporting you if you’re vulnerable. But they can’t help you unless you ask.

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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