If you’ve been told your energy supply will be disconnected
If you haven’t paid a bill after 28 days, your supplier may contact you about the possibility of disconnecting your gas or electricity supply. It’s rare to be disconnected as your supplier will usually offer to install a prepayment meter instead.
If you’ve missed payments because of coronavirus, you should explain this to your supplier. They might agree not to disconnect you. For example, tell them if your income has been affected by long-term symptoms.
If your supplier decides to disconnect you, they must give you a chance to pay your debt through a payment plan. If you haven’t already, you should talk to your supplier about your repayment options.
Check if your supplier is allowed to disconnect you
If you've reached State Pension age, your supplier can't disconnect you between 1 October and 31 March if either:
you live alone
you only live with other people who have reached State Pension age or children under 18 years old
In some situations your supplier must offer you support before they disconnect you. For example they might help you set up a payment plan. This applies between 1 October and 31 March each year if someone you live with:
has reached State Pension age
has a long-term physical or mental health condition - for example, diabetes or depression
If this applies to you, contact your supplier to let them know.
Most suppliers have signed up to an agreement called the 'Energy UK Vulnerability Commitment'. You can check if your supplier has signed up to the commitment by contacting them or checking their website.
If your supplier has signed up to the commitment, they won't disconnect you between 1 October and 31 March if you live with children under 16.
They also won’t disconnect you at any time of year if you:
have long-term health problems
have severe financial problems
have children under 6 years old living at home
If your supplier hasn't signed up to the commitment, they should take your situation into account, but they’re not obliged to.
If you’ve been threatened with being disconnected but think you shouldn’t be, contact your supplier and let them know. They should visit your home to check on your situation before they do anything. You can make a complaint if they decide to go ahead and disconnect you.
The disconnection process
If you don’t come to an agreement with your supplier to pay off your debt, they can apply to a court for a warrant to enter your home to disconnect your supply. Your supplier must send a notice telling you they’re applying to the court.
Before the hearing takes place, contact your supplier and try and come to an agreement to pay off your debt.
If you haven’t contacted your supplier, there’ll be a court hearing which you should attend. You can still come to an arrangement with your supplier to pay off your debt at this stage. You can take along a friend for support.
If the court grants a warrant, your supplier will be able to disconnect your supply. They must give you 7 days notice in writing before they do. In practice, it’s rare for suppliers to disconnect customers. They’re more likely to fit a prepayment meter in your home.
Your supplier won’t need a warrant to disconnect a meter on the outside of your property (as the warrant is to enter your property), but most suppliers will still get one.
If you have a ‘smart meter’
If you have a smart energy meter in your home, your supplier could potentially disconnect your supply remotely without needing access to your meter. However, before they do this, they must have:
contacted you to discuss options for repaying your debt, eg through a repayment plan
visited your home to assess your personal situation and whether this would affect you being disconnected, eg if you’re disabled or elderly
If they don’t do this and they try and disconnect you, make a complaint to your supplier.
If your supply has been disconnected, contact your supplier to arrange reconnection.
You will need to arrange to pay your debt, the reconnection fee and administrative costs. The amount you’ll be charged depends on your supplier, but it must be reasonable. If you think the charges are too high, get advice from the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.
You may have to pay your supplier a security deposit as a condition of giving you a supply. You can’t be asked for a security deposit if you have a prepayment meter installed.
If you've paid all the charges your supplier must reconnect you within 24 hours - or within 24 hours of the start of the next working day if you make payment out of working hours.
If you can’t pay all the charges at once, you can ask your supplier if they’re willing to agree a repayment plan with you. If they do agree then they should reconnect you within 24 hours.
If the supplier doesn’t reconnect you within 24 hours they have to pay you £30 compensation. They must do this within 10 working days. They’ll usually credit your account, but you can ask them to pay you by cheque or bank transfer. If they don't pay on time they have to pay you an extra £30 for the delay.
If you're disconnected because your energy supply is interrupted, you might be able to claim compensation.
If you’re struggling with living costs
If you’re struggling with money, there are things you can do to save on your regular living costs. Check what to do if you need help with living costs.
If you’re finding it hard to pay your bills, you can get help. Find out more about getting help with your bills.
You can also get help with debts.
If you're struggling to pay for food, find out how to get help from a food bank.
Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline if you need more help - a trained adviser can give you advice over the phone, online chat or by email.
The helpline adviser may be able to refer your case to the Extra Help Unit who can negotiate with your supplier on your behalf.