Your energy provider must try to help you reach a solution if you get into arrears, and it's crucial that you contact them straight away. They may be able to offer you a new payment plan that repays your arrears over time, but that also includes a sum towards your current usage.
You'll need to inform them of your regular household expenditures, and how much money is coming in each month. It’s also helpful to let them know your financial position as a whole - whether you owe other debts, for instance, or if you've lost your job.
If you cannot agree a revised payment plan they may insist that a prepayment meter is installed. In rare circumstances, they might threaten to cut off your gas or electricity supply, but if you’re on certain benefits a scheme called Fuel Direct may help – this allows you to pay your utility bills from your benefits.
Your provider must also support you in reducing your energy bills by providing information on energy efficiency around the home, and may allow you to pay your utility bills at the intervals that suit you – weekly, if you receive a weekly wage, for example.
If you already have a prepayment meter or your supplier installs one because of your arrears, you’ll pay for your energy in advance. Some providers use a proportion of each top-up amount to reduce arrears.
Disconnecting your energy supply is a last resort for energy companies, and before doing so they must have tried to help you repay. For example, by providing different payment methods and offering payment by instalments.
For more information on what to do if you have utility bill arrears, please contact Scotland Debt Solutions. We offer free same-day meetings, and operate offices around Scotland so you can quickly access the support you need.
Our Scottish based team can help advise you on your debt problems.