I’m struggling to pay my energy bills, what can I do?

June 24, 2013

The price of gas and electricity has sky rocketed in recent years and with the average energy bill now costing around £1,420 per year, it’s not surprising that the number of people struggling to pay their gas and electricity is on the increase.

A recent survey from Age UK found that one in five pensioners have cut back on heating, even in the winter months, as a way to afford basic living costs.

A separate survey from Uswitch also discovered that around 20% of households in the UK currently owe money to their energy supplier, rising by one million homes in one year.

So if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills and need help, Scotland Debt Solutions can provide you with the information you need to make things a little easier.

Gas and electricity is considered a ‘priority debt’. This is a debt which should be paid before any unsecured debts such as loans, credit cards etc and are considered as important as your mortgage, council tax payments and basic living costs such as food. Often unsecured debts result in aggressive chasing and harassment and in an attempt to clear these debts, energy bills can understandably fall behind. If you’re struggling to prioritise because your unsecured debts are taking over, why not call one of our professional knowledgeable advisers today and they can help you react to your unsecured debts whilst taking also into account your priority debts.

The first thing to do if you’re falling behind on payments is to contact your energy supplier directly. Energy suppliers have lots of customers, and may not be aware that you’re struggling. It’s common for suppliers to arrange a monthly payment plan to get you back on track if you can’t afford to pay a lump sum. Also, don’t forget to discuss your current tariff with your provider. There may be a better deal to suit you and avoid any future energy debt. Often, something as simple as switching to direct debit can save around £200 per year.

Pre-payment meters are usually the most expensive way to receive your energy, so perhaps consider changing to a credit meter if it’s an option. However, your energy supplier may suggest you move to a pre-payment meter, in order to repay your arrears.

In November 2012 Ofgem revealed 320,000 people were in debt with their gas pre-payment meter and 315,000 with their electricity. The majority of these customers moved to pre-payment meters as part of a repayment plan, following debt accumulated on a credit meter.

Falling behind with debt is stressful, but with five million homes struggling to pay their energy bills, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. If you need advice or help prioritising you debts, why not call our approachable team at Scotland Debt Solutions today and we’ll do our best to assist you in finding a debt-free future.

John Baird

Insolvency Adviser

Tel: 0800 063 9250

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