I’m struggling to afford my energy bills. Can I stop paying them?
You may be worried that as prices rise you can’t afford to pay your energy bills. Or you may have seen social media campaigns encouraging people to cancel their gas and electricity bills in protest at the high prices.
While you might be tempted to cancel your Direct Debit or refuse to pay, your gas and electric bills are priority bills. There are severe consequences to missing or being late on a payment.
Instead, if you can’t afford to pay, contact your energy company and ask them if you can pay at a rate you can afford. You can also ask for details of grants or hardship funds they have available, set up to help people struggling with their bills.
You should contact us for free advice if you're worried you can't pay your energy bills.
What happens if I don’t pay my gas or electricity bills?
While your supplier may be able to offer support if you explain you’re struggling to pay them, if you simply stop paying your bill:
- Your supplier can collect the debt using a debt collection agency.
- Your supplier could get a court warrant to enter your home to fit a pre-payment meter. Any arrears you have will be added to the meter and a set amount will be deducted each week
- Your credit score will be affected if you miss payments
- You could be disconnected, but this is rare
You can’t be sent to prison for not paying your energy bills.
Can I cancel my direct debit payment?
- If you cancel your direct debit payment you may be charged a fee for the missed payment
- As Direct Debit is usually the cheapest way to pay, you may be moved to a higher rate when paying quarterly bills or prepayment meter
What happens if my supplier fits a prepayment meter?
Paying for your energy on a prepayment meter is more expensive than Direct Debit.
Any arrears will be added to the meter and a set amount will be deducted each week. This means you must pay the arrears at a set weekly amount or risk losing the supply being cut off, although this is rare.
If you're struggling to pay your gas or electricity bills, we can help you
If you're worried about paying your gas, electric or any other bills, your creditors may agree to a short-term payment holiday.
Depending on your situation, you may also be able to get support with emergency or food costs. Energy companies also offer a range of grants and hardship funds to help people affected by the cost-of-living crisis.
If you're already a StepChange client, we can continue to support you. Visit our contact us page to find out how to get in touch with us.