Can I get help to pay my arrears?
If you receive benefits you may be able to arrange for payments to be taken directly from your benefits using a scheme called third party deductions or Fuel Direct. This means that part of your benefits are paid straight to your energy supplier to help cover the arrears and your current energy usage.
Fuel Direct will deduct an amount to cover the estimated gas or electric you use each week, plus a fixed amount towards the arrears, currently £3.70 per week (about £16 a calendar month) for the 2016-17 tax year. This can be a helpful way to clear arrears in manageable amounts and prevent your supply from being cut off or further action being taken. It's important to think carefully before setting up Fuel Direct as it will reduce the amount of benefits you are left with in cash.
To find out more about Fuel Direct, contact Jobcentre Plus or your local pension centre if you receive pension credits.
Other schemes to help with gas and electricity bills
There are a number of other ways you can get help with your energy bills that could help you save money depending on your situation. This includes:
If you're looking to save money on your existing energy bills, utility switching can help you keep your bills lower and get the best deal from your energy supplier.
You can change to a different supplier at any time, except if:
- You have arrears of more than £500 still outstanding on a pre-payment meter
- You have a normal meter with arrears that have been outstanding for more than 28 days
There are some exceptions to this, such as whether your arrears were the fault of the supplier.
There are lots of price comparison websites that can help you find the best deal for your gas and electricity. Before you make the switch it’s a good idea to do some research, just in case your current supplier can help you save money.
We’d recommend using a switching service that has the Ofgem confidence code logo. This means they offer a ‘whole of market’ comparison, and you can be confident that you’re being offered impartial and unbiased comparisons.