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Utility Bills Debt Advice

Many households are struggling at the moment amid the cost of living crisis and if you are finding it hard to meet your financial responsibilities, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone… and that there is help and support available if you do need it.

When it comes to paying bills, it’s important to remember that some should be prioritised above others – and this includes your utility bills. With gas and electricity, if you miss payments and find yourself in arrears, you run the risk of your supply being cut off.

Priority bills should be paid before you consider other debts, such as payday loans, credit cards, overdrafts and so on. Although your water company is unable to cut off your water supply, it’s still important that you settle the account when bills arrive and tackle any outstanding arrears you may have sooner rather than later.

If you are having trouble at the moment and know you’re going to find it hard to make payments on any of your utility bills, get in touch with your energy provider as soon as you can to let them know your situation and so they know you’re not just ignoring the debt. 

It’s possible that you’ll be able to reach an agreement regarding repayments, which can help take the pressure off. Under OFGEM rules, suppliers must work with their customers to come up with affordable payment plans and you are able to ask for a debt repayment review, payment breaks and reductions, more time to pay and access to hardship funds, as well as advice on how to be more energy efficient.

You may also find that your energy company has grants and schemes available to help you with energy costs and home heating. Government help and support is also available and you may qualify for schemes like the Winter Fuel Payment, the Cold Weather Payment or the Warm Home Discount.

Something else to consider is the free government Breathing Space scheme (1) (also known as the dept respite scheme), where you could be granted up to 60 days’ freedom from creditor action so you can get the help and advice you need to set up an appropriate debt management solution.

If you’re eligible for the scheme and your application is successful, all your creditors will be informed and they’ll have to stop any debt collection or enforcement activity, although you will need to continue making regular repayments if you can afford to.

Something else to bear in mind is that although it is possible for your supply to be disconnected, this is very rare and suppliers have lots of strict rules they need to adhere to before they take this kind of action. 

It should always be considered as a last resort and your supply cannot be disconnected if you owe debt to a previous supplier, if you’re bankrupt and the energy debt is for before you declared bankruptcy or if you owe money for a service or appliance from an energy provider, rather than gas or electricity consumption.

Do you need further utility bills debt advice because of cost of living challenges? Get in touch with us today to see how we can help.


Money Helper has replaced the Money Advice Service and brings together the support and services of three government-backed financial guidance providers: the Money Advice Service, the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.