If you’re struggling to pay your phone, internet or TV bill
If you’re struggling to pay your bills or you owe money, there are things you can do. You might be able to get a cheaper deal or get help and support from your provider.
Check if you can get a cheaper deal
You might be able to switch providers or move to a different contract to get a better deal.
If your provider has told you they’re increasing the price of your contract, you might be able to cancel - check how to cancel your contract.
If you’re employed, check if your employer has a benefit package - you might be able to get cheap internet, mobile and TV deals.
If you’re getting benefits
You might be able to get a cheaper internet, mobile or phone deal called a ‘social tariff’. It depends which benefits you get.
If your provider has a social tariff, you won’t have to pay to move to it. You can move at any time - you don’t have to wait until the end of your contract.
If your provider doesn't offer a social tariff, you can switch to another provider that does.
You can check which providers offer social tariffs on the Ofcom website. You can then find the full rules about a provider's social tariff on their website.
You’ll need to check that:
you’re on the right benefits for the social tariff
you’re the main account holder named on your contract
the social tariff package covers all the services you need
If you have a Jobcentre Plus work coach, you might be able to get free internet for 6 months - ask your work coach if you’re eligible.
Check if you can leave before the end of your contract
Check your contract’s terms and conditions. If you want to leave before the end of the contract you might have to:
get permission from your provider
pay a fee
Tell your provider if you're struggling to pay - they might let you leave your contract early without paying a fee.
If you’re thinking of changing your contract, you should check what to consider when switching providers.
If you need help cancelling your contract, you can check how to cancel a phone, TV, internet or mobile contract.
If you want to cancel a subscription to a streaming service, what you can do depends on how you pay for it.
If you pay for your streaming service each month, you should be able to cancel your subscription at any time.
If you’ve already paid for a whole year, you probably won’t get a full refund. Check the terms and conditions on your streaming provider’s website.
If you’re struggling to pay your TV licence
You should first check if you need a TV licence.
You’ll only need a TV licence if you:
watch or record live TV - this includes live TV on streaming services
use BBC iPlayer
If you need a TV licence, it's important to pay for it. It’s a criminal office to watch TV without a licence - you could be fined up to £1,000.
If you don’t think you need a TV licence, you can tell TV Licensing on their website.
If you can’t afford to pay for your TV licence for a whole year, you can spread the payments out. You won’t save money but it might make it easier to afford.
If you pay through Direct Debit, you can pay every month or 3 months. You can check how much you’ll pay on the TV Licensing website.
If you get a TV Licensing payment card you can pay every week, 2 weeks or month. You can pay:
through the TV Licensing app
over the phone or by text message
in person at any PayPoint store
through the post - by cheque or postal order
You can get a free payment card by calling the TV Licensing service.
TV Licensing free payment card
Telephone: 0300 555 0286
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 6:30pm
Calls to this number from a mobile or landline cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number. If minutes are included in your phone contract, the call will be free.
If you or your partner get Pension Credit
You can get a free TV licence if both of the following apply:
you're at least 75 years old
you get Pension Credit - or your partner who lives with you gets it
If you’re registered blind
You can get a 50% discount on your TV licence if you’re registered blind, or live with someone who is. Check how to apply for the discount on GOV.UK.
If you live in a care home or sheltered accommodation
You might be able to get a TV licence for £7.50. You must be either:
aged over 60 and retired
Ask your housing manager to apply for you.
If you’ve received a bill that looks wrong
You might be able to dispute your bill if you:
have been charged more than you expected
were charged for a period after you cancelled or switched
Check if something might be a scam
It might be a scam if:
your provider has contacted you in a different way to usual - for example through a text message
you’ve got a bill you weren’t expecting
you’ve been asked to transfer money quickly
you’ve been asked to pay in an unusual way - for example through a transfer service like MoneyGram or Western Union
If you’re not sure if the message is genuine, check with your supplier.
Get their contact details directly from their website - don’t call any numbers or visit any websites that are included in the message that might be a scam.
If you’re behind with paying your bills
If you owe money to lots of companies
You should speak to the companies you owe money to – they might let you pay smaller amounts or take a break from payments.
Don’t ignore bills or letters about money you owe.
If you miss a payment or pay late, your provider might charge you a fee.
If you continue not to pay, your provider might:
restrict your service - for example your phone provider might only let you make calls to the emergency services
disconnect you - you can check when your service will be disconnected on your provider's website
send your details to a debt collection company - they'll contact you to try to arrange repayments
take you to court - check what to do if you're being taken to court
You should contact your provider as soon as possible if you think you'll miss a payment. They might agree to:
reduce your bill
give you more time to pay
increase your data or download limit
move you to a cheaper contract
You might also be able to agree a plan to repay the money you owe. This means you’ll pay a bit more each month until you’ve paid back what you owe.
Tell your provider if you’re vulnerable
You can be vulnerable in lots of different situations, for example if:
you’ve reached State Pension age - check your State Pension age on GOV.UK
you’re disabled or have long-term ill health
you owe money to other organisations
your income has recently gone down - for example, if you lost your job
you live in a rural area away from other people
If you think you’re vulnerable, or if it’s really important for you to use a phone or the internet, you should let your service provider know. They should make sure you’re treated fairly and help you keep connected.
Talk to an adviser local Citizens Advice bureau or Advice Direct Scotland's consumer service for more help.
Advice Direct Scotland's Consumer Service
Freephone: 0808 164 6000