Getting help if you can't afford your energy bills

Your energy supplier can help if you are having difficulties with your gas and electric bills. You can get other grants and benefits too.  Your options will depend on your situation

Support during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Energy suppliers won’t disconnect your gas or electric if you miss a payment right now. Ask for ‘emergency credit’ if you use a prepay meter if you can’t top up. Our rules mean suppliers must offer payment plans you can afford.  

Call your supplier if you are worried. They have agreed emergency measures with the government during the pandemic. Most have also signed up to fresh commitments drawn up with Ofgem and the industry trade body Energy UK to support you this winter.

Let's Talk has a benefits eligibility checker. It includes benefits advice if you’re affected by coronavirus.

  1. Agree a payment plan

    Contact your supplier as soon as you can if you are worried about paying your energy bills. 

    Suppliers must work with you to agree on a payment plan you can afford under Ofgem rules. This includes reviewing a plan you have agreed before.

    You can ask for:

    • a review of your payments and debt repayments
    • payment breaks or reductions 
    • more time to pay
    • access to hardship funds
    • Priority Service registration – a free support service if you are in a .

    If you can’t agree on a way to pay, get help from Citizens Advice or Advice Direct Scotland. Someone at their Extra Help Unit could take on your case if you are in a

    Citizens Advice

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

    Advice Direct Scotland

  2. Check schemes, grants and benefits

    From suppliers

    Many energy companies offer schemes or grants to help with home heating and energy costs. For example, by making your home more energy-efficient or offering free boiler checks and upgrades. You don’t have to be a customer to join some of these schemes.  

    Citizens Advice lists grants some larger suppliers offer

    Talk to your supplier about grants and schemes they run too. 

    From the government

    You might qualify for the:

    • Winter Fuel Payment – a £100 to £300 fuel payment for people born on or before 5 October 1954. 
    • Cold Weather Payment – a £25 payment for every 7 days of very cold weather between November and March. 
    • Warm Home Discount – a £140 discount for some people getting Pension Credit or some people in low-income households.
    • Household Support Fund - a funding package to help vulnerable households this winter. Contact your local council for advice and help on accessing the fund.

    If you live in Scotland or Wales;

    The government’s Fuel Direct Scheme can also help you repay a debt from benefit payments. Contact Jobcentre Plus (or your pension centre if you’re on Pension Credit) to apply.

    Let's Talk has a benefits eligibility checker. It includes benefits guidance if you’re affected by the coronavirus.

    From charities

    Let's Talk has information on grants some charities offer and how to apply.  

    Turn2Us has grants search and adviser locator tools.

  3. Get debt advice

    You can find advice on managing debt problems and budgeting through the:

    Start by working out which debts you need to deal with first. 

    Priority debts are ones that can cause serious problems if you can’t do anything about them. They include things like your energy bills, rent or mortgage and council tax. You can learn more about working out priority and other debts on the Citizens Advice website. Their budgeting tool can also help you manage your finances.

    Breathing Space scheme

    Breathing Space (sometimes called the 'Debt Respite Scheme') is a free government scheme that could give you up to 60 days' space from creditors to focus on getting debt advice and setting up a debt solution.

    If you apply and are eligible, all creditors are informed and must stop any collection or enforcement activity. You'll still need to keep making your regular payments if you can afford to.

    StepChange can help with applications

  4. Other tips

    Check if you can cut costs by switching from your current energy tariff or supplier.

    Change the payment method for your bills if you can. Direct Debit is usually cheaper.

    Use the Simple Energy Advice calculator to see how you can improve your energy efficiency, including the Green Deal. You can also learn about schemes run by your local council. Energy efficiency improvements cover things like home heating, free boiler replacement and roof insulation. 

    You can also call Simple Energy Advice if you’re in England or Wales, or Home Energy Scotland if you’re in Scotland.

    • Simple Energy Advice: 0800 444 202
    • Home Energy Scotland: 0808 808 2282

Further help

Contact Citizens Advice if you aren’t sure about your options and need more support. If you are vulnerable someone at their Extra Help Unit could take on your case. 

  • 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:

In Wales, for debt and money advice you can also contact Advicelink Cymru.