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You can’t switch energy supplier because of a debt

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

All energy companies have arrangements in place to allow you to switch even if you are in debt. You can ask your supplier what options are available to you.

Whether or not you're allowed to switch will depend on how long you have owed the money and how much you owe. The supplier may require a positive credit check and/or a security deposit.

This page explains what you should do if your request to switch to a new gas or electricity supplier has been refused because you owe your current supplier money.

How long have you owed the money?

Whether or not you are allowed to switch will depend on how long you have owed the money. If you've owed it for:

  • less than 28 days, for example, you haven't paid a recent bill, you will still be able to change supplier (the money you owe will be transferred to your new supplier)
  • more than 28 days, you may be prevented from switching

Gas

If you have a debt of more than £100 and you haven’t paid the bill for over 28 days, the new supplier can offer you one of three options:

  • they will transfer the debt from the old supplier if you agree repayment terms
  • they will transfer the debt from the old supplier if you agree repayment through a prepayment meter
  • you agree to repay the outstanding debt within three working days before you switch to the new supplier

If you do not agree to one of these options then the new supplier will withdraw the switching request until the debt has been settled with the old supplier.

If you have a prepayment meter and have been sent a bill for less than £100 that you have not paid for 28 days, you can still switch to a new supplier. You will continue to pay off the debt to the new supplier through the prepayment meter.

Electricity

All suppliers have arrangements in place to allow you to switch even if you are in debt. Ask your supplier to tell you about the options available to you.

How to pay off a debt

You can either pay off a debt in one payment or agree to an affordable payment plan. If you’re having difficulty paying your bills, contact your energy supplier. They may suggest that they install a prepayment meter. This will allow you to pay a fixed amount off your arrears at the same time as paying for the fuel you’re currently using. Your supplier must make sure they collect the arrears at a rate which takes into account your ability to pay.

Next steps

More help if you’re having problems paying your energy bills

Help and advice on other problems switching energy supplier

If you need more help

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