Thinking of not paying your energy bill? Here’s what the real cost could be

Don’t bury your head in the sand when it comes to energy bills, as there may be more support out there than you think.

Vicky Shaw
Friday 07 October 2022 09:30 BST
Can anyone get away with no paying their energy bill? (Alamy/PA)
Can anyone get away with no paying their energy bill? (Alamy/PA)

With bumper bills landing on doormats this winter, it may be tempting to bury your head in the sand over your energy bill, or listen to suggestions online that you simply don’t pay.

But the consequences of ignoring your bill can be serious and significant.

Under the energy price guarantee, a typical household in Britain will pay, on average, around £2,500 a year on their energy bill, for the next two years, from October 1, alongside other support measures for households.

Your own bill will be determined by how much energy you use, so if you’re a higher-than-average user, you could pay more than £2,500.

Erik Porter, a financial coach at Wagestream, says: “The cost of missing a bill is higher than you’d think, and it’s easy to let bills get on top of you.”

He says that, as well as late payment fees, people who don’t pay could find their credit scores are affected.

Porter says: “Depending on your credit score, this could make you ineligible for the best credit card rates, leading to higher interest on borrowing.

“What’s more, with the missed payment remaining on your credit file for up to six years, you could end up paying higher rates for your mortgage, mobile phone, insurance and many other financial products.”

Porter continues: “People should know that they aren’t alone, and support is out there.”

He suggests: “Firstly, get in touch with your supplier if you’re struggling to keep up with payments or already have energy debt.

“They have a responsibility to help get you on an affordable repayment plan, offer you more time to pay or even payment breaks.

“They should also provide you with information on other available support, such as access to hardship funds.

“If you’re in a vulnerable situation, such as someone in your home having a disability or being elderly, you can also ask to be put on the Priority Services Register.”

Charities such as StepChange and Citizens Advice can also help.

The knock-on effects of not paying bills can be huge for people

Ofgem spokesperson

“You can also visit MoneyHelper, a free Government service, to find advice services in your area that can help you navigate available support,” says Porter.

Regulator Ofgem has information on its website to help those who are struggling. An Ofgem spokesperson said: “We know people are under huge pressure, but we do not think it’s in consumers’ best interests to not pay their bills, and most leading charities and consumer groups agree.

“The knock-on effects of not paying bills can be huge for people.

“They could lose their direct debit discounts or be forced to move to a pre-payment meter. It could also damage their credit rating.

“Anyone struggling to pay their bills should speak to their supplier, who is obliged to offer payment plans and direct customers to available support. Ofgem will ensure they provide this.

“Ofgem is working hard to make sure suppliers support people who are struggling with bills, and recently asked 16 suppliers to make improvements in this area, as part of a robust, wide-ranging review.”

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