There are three circumstances where your energy supplier can legally prevent you from switching to a new supplier:
You’re billed monthly or quarterly and you have debts of 28 days or more
The energy bills at the property aren’t in your name
Your meter is supported
Debts of 28 days or more
If you have owed money to your energy supplier for more than 28 days they can stop your switch. If this is the case, you’ll need to repay the money owed before the switch can continue.
However, if it’s your supplier’s fault that you’re in debt (for example, they’ve estimated your bill incorrectly) they can’t stop your switch. You will, however, have to repay the amount owed when you receive your final bill.
IF YOU HAVE A PREPAYMENT METER
The rules are different if you prepay for your gas and electricity. You can still switch supplier if you owe less than £500 for gas or £500 for electricity.
In order for the switch to complete you’ll have to ask your new supplier to agree to your debt being transferred along with your energy supplier. This is known as the ‘Debt Assignment Protocol’.
The bills aren’t in your name
If the energy bills are not in your name in the property you live in (for example, you’re a tenant and the energy bills are in your landlord’s name) your supplier can stop your switch.
You’ll need to get permission from the person named on the bill in order to proceed with the switch.
Your meter isn't supported
Your switch can be stopped if your energy meter isn’t supported by the name supplier. If this is the case, you might find you need to contact your current supplier to discuss options for changing your meter or accessing a better energy deal directly through them.
If you’ve been in debt for less than 28 days
You’re entitled to switch your energy supplier if the debt has been owed for less than 28 days. You’ll still be required to repay the amount, however, it should just be added to your final bill. You can also ask for a payment plan if you’re having trouble paying. This should mean that your switch can go ahead as planned while you repay the amount owed to your old energy supplier in instalments.
If your supplier stops your switch
If you’re entitled to switch your energy supplier but your current supplier is preventing you from switching you should make a complaint
For those on a prepayment meter, it’s worthwhile writing to your supplier and explaining that you are entitled to switch. Citizens Advice have a letter template to assist you in writing your complaint
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