The coronavirus crisis is having a devastating effect on incomes, and the ability to pay household and utility bills. The government has encouraged creditors to be lenient with customers who are experiencing financial difficulties at this time, so if you need help with your water, gas, and electric bills, what support might be available?
If your water supply isn’t metered you pay for water services via your council tax bill in Scotland, but if you have metered water supply you pay Scottish Water directly. Energy and water companies are expected to be sympathetic to their customers’ financial difficulty during COVID-19, and they may be able to offer you an instalment plan whereby you make small, affordable instalments for a few months.
It’s worthwhile contacting them as quickly as possible when you need help to pay, so they understand your situation and can offer appropriate solutions. If you live on your own or with a partner and don’t currently have a water meter, it may be cheaper option to have one installed, for instance, and you can save on future bills.
Initially, it’s important to contact your provider and discuss making reduced payments if you need help. Your supplier should be open to negotiations, and quickly put new measures in place where necessary.
There are various other options available in Scotland when you need help with your water and energy bills, which can make a difference at this time. If you’re on a prepayment meter but can’t top up, for example, your supplier may offer you extra credit that you can repay at a later date.
If you were in debt to your energy supplier before the coronavirus crisis, you can also ask them to accept reduced payments on a temporary basis. They’ll need to understand how much you can afford to pay and why you’re making the request – you may have lost your job, for example, or be unable to work due to coronavirus.
You may be able to obtain a discretionary crisis grant from the Scottish Welfare Trust if you can’t afford to pay your energy bills because of coronavirus. Local authorities in Scotland are receiving additional funding from the Scottish government, and could offer you an emergency grant to pay for necessary heating and lighting costs. You’ll need to contact your local authority to find out if you’re eligible.
The British Gas Energy Trust also offers grants to non-customers, and other energy firms operate grant schemes specifically for their customers, so it’s worthwhile checking whether you could obtain a discretionary grant from these sources.
It’s important to contact water and energy suppliers quickly when you need help, and to communicate openly about your situation. If you would like more advice on paying your water, gas, and electric bills during and after the coronavirus crisis, Scotland Debt Solutions can help. Please get in touch with one of our experts to arrange a free same-day consultation in complete confidence.
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