When the weather becomes warmer people begin to think less about their energy use and it’s at this time of year when the “winter bill” impact hits.
Fuel Debt can cause worry, depression, embarrassment and financial hardship. It isn’t talked about as much as other debts such as loans or credit cards however, in Sunderland 14% of people struggle to adequately heat their homes due to high energy costs and low incomes.
There are a number of factors that can cause households to go into arrears but help and support are available from a number of different organisations including:
Top tip: Don’t forget about daily standing charges over the summer time without a pre pay top up. Try to budget for these all year round.
Yes – If debt has been added to a prepay meter of up to £500 you can switch supplier under the Debt Assignment Protocol (DAP).
No – Your energy supplier can stop you switching if you are in debt. In this case, they must offer you the best available tariff.
If the debt is under £500, you can ask to be switched on to a pre-payment meter. However, prepay tariffs are normally more expensive than credit tariffs so you will be paying more per unit going forward.
Yes – make sure you give the correct number of digits on your meter. Contact your Neighbourhood Coordinator or energy supplier if you don’t know where your meter is or how to read it.
Yes – Energy suppliers offer Trust Funds and Grants to help customer’s clear energy debts. Anyone can apply either for themselves or on behalf of someone else.
If you apply, you’ll need to have some key information to hand including; recent meter readings, details of any benefits received, age of homeowners and any exceptional personal circumstances.
Supporting information can also be considered. E.g. a letter from a GP, Social Worker, Debt Charity.
Your Gentoo Money Matters Support Coordinator and Fuel Debt Champions can help you to submit an application. Please contact your local Gentoo office to make an appointment.
Yes - They can help with payment plans and advice on discounts that might be available.
Useful information to collect prior to calling them is:
No – There are a number of reasons why bills can be incorrect including:
Yes – The Government would like everyone in the UK to have been offered a Smart Meter by 2020. You can call your energy supplier and request a smart meter which will be fitted free of charge. It will automatically send meter readings back to your supplier so you won’t have an estimated bill again.
Your HDU will show you how much you have used in energy units and £’s over the day, week and month.
For more information on Smart Meters contact your energy supplier or visit https://www.smartenergygb.org.
No – It can take up to 6 months depending on your energy supplier and personal circumstances. You have 28 days from receiving your statement to make a payment or advise your energy supplier if you’ll have difficulties making payment before any formal action is taken.
Disconnection is a very last resort.
If you have received a pre-disconnection letter you can still contact your energy supplier for help. If you would like assistance with this please book an appointment with a Gentoo Money Matters Coordinator or a Fuel Debt Champion by contacting your local Gentoo office.