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.
Before they disconnect you, your supplier 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.
Who shouldn’t be disconnected
Suppliers aren’t allowed to disconnect you between 1 October and 31 March if you’re:
- a pensioner living alone
- a pensioner living with children under five
The 6 largest suppliers have signed up to an agreement to make sure you won’t be disconnected at any time of year if you have:
- a disability
- long-term health problems
- severe financial problems
- young children living at home
These suppliers are British Gas, EDF Energy, npower, E.on, Scottish Power and SSE.
Other suppliers should also 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 to 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 need further help, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline. They may be able to refer your case to the Extra Help Unit who can negotiate with your supplier on your behalf.
The Home Heat Helpline can also advise you on gas and electricity debts and disconnection.