The gas and electricity companies can cut off your supply in a few weeks
if you don't pay them. No court is involved in this decision. It is
important to contact them to make a payment arrangement as early as
Checking liability for the bill If you are not the person named on the bill, e.g. it is in
the name of someone who has left your home, you may not be liable to
pay the arrears up to the date they left.
You can dispute
liability with the fuel company and also contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 or via the Consumer Direct website. This should stop your fuel being cut
off until the dispute has been sorted out.
How do I make an arrangement? Bills for gas and electricity are issued quarterly. The fuel
company will usually want the bill paid before the next bill is due.
You can ask to pay your bills weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. If you
have arrears, phone or write to the company and ask for a payment arrangement.
Use your personal
budget to support your offer
of payment. This must cover the cost of the fuel you are using and
an amount off the arrears. Even if the company does not agree to
your offer, start paying what you have offered immediately. Do not
offer to pay more than you can afford towards the arrears. All fuel
companies should agree under their code of practice to accept an
offer of repayment at a rate that you can afford.
companies will not disconnect you if:
you agree to a payment arrangement
you agree to have
a pre-payment meter installed (be wary of this - they can work
out expensive, and will leave you without fuel if you run out of
the debt belongs to a person who lived
in your house before you
If it is between October and March and
all the adults in the household are over retirement age.
Some companies will also agree not to disconnect
the supply between these times if the adults in the household have a
How do I avoid having my fuel cut off? You must keep paying for the fuel you are using and an amount
off your debt even while you are trying to make an arrangement. To work
this out, add up your last four bills to find out the total amount for
the year, then divide by 52 to work out how much fuel you use each week.
If your bills are high check that your account
has not been based on estimates. Ask the fuel company to take an accurate
reading, or give them an accurate reading by reading
the meters yourself.
The company should accept the following arrangements:
Instalments - weekly or
monthly instalments paying off the whole amount before the next
quarterly bill arrives
Budget plans -
you pay a fixed amount weekly, fortnightly or monthly - the
amounts are the same all year round.
Direct payments - If you
get Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance you can ask the
Benefits Agency to take weekly deductions from your benefit
and pay them directly to the gas or electricity company.
Other help Contact the Social Services Department of your local council
or Benefits Agency for help. The fuel company will delay cutting you
off if they are told the Social Services or Benefits Agency are looking
into your case. They will usually hold action for 10 working days but
may agree to delay longer. This could give you time to make an arrangement
to pay. The Children's Act 1989 gives Social Services the power to make
payments to families with children in certain circumstances.