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Debt to an energy supplier can arise in a number of ways. For example, monthly Direct Debit payments agreed in good faith may not cover usage during a harsh winter, a supplier may have technical issues and fail to bill a customer for a long period of time, or a customer may experience financial hardship and be unable to pay bills in full.
If you are in debt to a supplier, it is important not to ignore it. A good first step is to take up-to-date meter readings and phone your supplier to find out what you owe and discuss it.
Suppliers are required to make reasonable efforts to negotiate affordable repayments with customers in arrears.
If you make regular payments (ie pay by monthly Direct Debit or by budget scheme), future payments may be set a little higher to allow you to pay back the sum owed at an affordable rate.
If you pay by quarterly bill, what you owe may be spread over your next few bills.
Another option is to fit a prepayment meter and load the debt on to this. If this is done and the customer receives an income-based benefit (ie Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit or Universal Credit) the payback level must be set at no more than £3.70 per week.
This figure is also the payback level for Fuel Direct, in which deductions to cover ongoing usage and debt are made from social security benefits at source.
There are various charitable funds which accept applications from domestic customers and which make grants to clear or reduce fuel debt. Please refer to our charitable funds that can clear fuel debt page.
For a more personal touch, a visit to your home can be arranged by a specially trained energy adviser from the council who can advise you on reducing your energy bills and tackling existing fuel debt. Call 01259 450000 and ask to make an appointment with a member of our team.
A home energy check, based on individual circumstances, can be produced at your request detailing specific measures and grants suitable to your situation. HES can also provide free energy advice and information on various energy related grants and loans.
Freephone: 0808 808 2282 (Mon-Fri, 8am to 8pm, Sat 9am to 5pm) or email: email@example.com.
Clackmannanshire CAB offers free advice and support if you are having any problems with electricity and gas bills or have existing fuel debt. Tel: 01259 723880 for advice or for an appointment.
For advice on debt generally, phone the National Debtline on 0808 808 4000 (free from landlines and mobiles). This service operates Mon-Fri 9am to 8pm, Sat 9.30am to 1pm. If you are contacting this service prior to applying to a charitable fund, please ask for your reference number.
For advice on debt and help with budgeting generally, phone StepChange on 0800 138 1111 (free from landlines and mobiles). This service operates Monday to Friday 8-8 and Saturday 8-4. If you are contacting this service prior to applying to a charitable fund, please ask for (and take note of) your reference number.
The Pension Service offers a benefit check and advice service for pensioners. This helpline can be used by a person who has reached pensionable age or their family. Tel: 0845 60 60 265.
This campaigning and welfare organisation for older people has a helpline offering income maximisation and impartial advice on a wide range of matters affecting elderly people.
Phone the Age Scotland Helpline on 0800 12 44 222.
Home Energy Advice Team
Kilncraigs, Greenside Street, Alloa, FK10 1EB
Tel: 01259 450000