Back-billing explained

Back bills are sent to you by your gas or electricity supplier when you've not been accurately charged. A guide to your rights.

  1. What are the back-billing rules?

    • You can’t be charged for gas or electricity used more than 12 months ago if you have not been correctly billed for it, or informed about it via a statement of account, before. This includes situations where a supplier increases your Direct Debit because it was set too low. Suppliers cannot use this to recover any shortfall for a period longer than 12 months ago.
    • Suppliers must make these terms clear in their contract terms and conditions.

    The rules apply to household and Micro Business energy customers.

    They may not apply if you have behaved obstructively or unreasonably, preventing accurate billing. This could include:

    • blocking meter readings at your property on more than one occasion
    • stealing gas or electricity.
  2. If you get a back bill

    Contact your supplier if you get a bill for energy usage that’s for more than a year ago.

    Explain that you understand you are protected by the back-billing rules. You should only be charged for any unpaid consumption during the last 12 months if you have not had an accurate bill for this consumption before.

    To help, use this Citizens Advice back billing example letter.

    Make a complaint if your supplier continues to ask for the full amount.

  3. If you haven't had an energy bill in over a year

    To help your supplier send you accurate bills, try to:

    • provide regular meter readings
    • tell them when you are moving in or out of a property.
    • think about getting a smart meter.
  4. If you can't pay a back bill

    If you think you can’t afford to pay, ask your supplier about repayment plan options. They must take into account how much you can afford.  They will explain your options. 

    Citizens Advice can also help if you can't agree on a payment plan or if you're not happy with the options the supplier has given to you.

    • Call 0808 223 1133 or use their online webchat
    • For textphone, dial 18001 followed by the helpline number.

    In Scotland, Advice Direct Scotland can help: