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Can my utility supplier cut me off

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Can my utility supplier cut me off

Can my utility supplier cut me off

Can my utility supplier cut me off No. Only if you have not 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 supplier can disconnect your utility supply, 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
  • 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 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. Getting reconnected 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 utility supply is interrupted, you might be able to claim compensation. Utility supply disconnection and prepayment meter rules At one time or another many people experience difficulties paying their bills. If you get into debt with your gas or electricity supplier it’s very important to tackle the problem. If you let your utility bills build up, there is a risk of eventually being disconnected – which means having your utility cut off – by your supplier. Here we explain the rules, what should happen if you are disconnected and the help available to you to get reconnected. Debt and prepayment meters If you don’t engage with your supplier on a debt and 28 days pass, they can contact you about the possibility of disconnecting your utility supply. Your supplier must give you the chance to repay the money you owe through a payment plan before they disconnect you. The plan must factor in your financial circumstances and ability to pay. Debts can be repaid over a number of months as you also continue to pay for your ongoing utility use. It’s rare that customers are disconnected. Usually your supplier will ask to fit a prepayment meter, also referred to as a ‘key card’ or ‘token’ meter, in your home. They work in a similar way to a pay-as-you-go phone. You don’t have to have one if you don’t want one. Ask your supplier about your options. Find out more in Understand your utility meter. If you don’t engage with your supplier to agree how to resolve the debt, or fail to stick to an agreed payment plan, they can also install a prepayment meter under a warrant to recover the money you owe. They can only do this as a last resort and must send you a notice telling you they’re applying to the court. Who can’t be disconnected? If you are threatened with disconnection there are strict rules on who can or can’t be disconnected. If you’re eligible for the Priority Services Register Suppliers are prohibited from disconnecting a premises occupied by a customer eligible for the Priority Services Register during the winter months (1 October – 31 March). You’re eligible for the Priority Services Register if you: are of pensionable age are disabled or chronically sick have a long-term medical condition have a hearing or visual impairment or additional communication needs are in a vulnerable situation. If you’re a ‘Safety Net’ vulnerable consumer Many suppliers have also signed up to a Safety Net, a pledge to never knowingly disconnect a vulnerable customer at any time of year. This offers further protection for vulnerable customers. In this instance, vulnerable customers may be customers who are unable to safeguard their personal welfare or the personal welfare of other members of the household due to: age (such as younger people at home) health disability severe financial insecurity. If you’re bankrupt or you owe debts to a former utility supplier You cannot be disconnected if: your debt is owed to a previous supplier you have been made bankrupt and the debt relates to a period before you went bankrupt the debt is not for the gas or electricity you have used but for some other service or appliance you have bought from your supplier. If you think you shouldn’t be disconnected, contact your supplier and tell them. If you aren’t happy with their response, follow their complaints process and make a complaint. Get help to repay a debt and avoid disconnection Specific help is available if you have either been threatened with disconnection or who have actually been disconnected: Further support can also be found in our section on Who to contact if it’s difficult paying utility bills. Fuel Direct It may be also possible to repay an utility debt through a scheme called Fuel Direct. You are eligible for this scheme if you get: income support job seeker’s allowance pension credits employment and support allowance. Through Fuel Direct, a fixed sum will be automatically deducted every week from your benefits and paid directly to your utility supplier. This will cover your current fuel use and also pay off a certain amount of your debt. Find out more on GOV.UK: Help paying bills using your benefits (opens another website) Reconnection To get reconnected after a disconnection, contact your supplier. There may be costs and charges involved. Your supplier will explain them. If you experience temporary disconnection because of a power cut, Dial 105, You might be able to claim compensation from your network operator under the Guaranteed Standards. See Power cuts: Help and compensation under the Guaranteed Standards. Consumer protections Ofgem is working to deliver changes to protect consumers from experiencing more debt or hardship due to prepayment meter warrant installations. Under current rules, suppliers can charge warrant costs back to you. The charges, which can include court costs, can range between £200 to £900. We’re consulting on plans to place a firm cap at £100 or £150 on warrant charges for all customers. We’re also proposing to ban warrant charges altogether, and in some cases installations, for the most vulnerable customers. This includes people in financial hardship, and people with physical and mental health issues and learning difficulties. Remember, if you are threatened with disconnection it is important to act quickly and try and reach a financial arrangement that is acceptable to both you and your supplier. Contact Energy4 today for further information Location: 25 Hartley Meadow, Whitchurch, Hampshire, RG28 7BW Opening Hours: 8:00 – 17:00 Mon to Sat To discuss further, please contact Energy4 Telephone: Call us on 01642 888814 & 01642 888816 Email: contact@energy4.co.uk Please provide the best date and time of day that we should contact you Click here to contact Energy4 today Contact Energy4 today for further information Further information 1 Further information 2 Information 3 Information 4 Information 5 Information 6 Information 7 Information 8 Further information 9

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