Covid-19 and your energy supply
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen many energy suppliers collapse, the latest to this fate came just this week. But the pandemic has also seen records of customers going into arrears on their energy bills.
Is there help available from energy providers?
An energy package was launched by the government and energy suppliers early on in the crisis to ensure anyone vulnerable didn’t suffer hardship with heating or lighting their homes.
For those struggling to pay for gas and electricity, there are different support options available:
Your energy provider may be able to support you in reviewing your payment plans, including debt repayment plans
Your energy provider may allow you to take a break or agree to a reduction in your payments
You could be given access to hardship funds
Or, your energy provider could allow you more time to pay
From 15 December 2020, the voluntary measures put in place in March 2020 became mandatory under the regulator’s licence conditions. These measures mean energy providers have to provide customers struggling to pay with “realistic and sustainable” debt repayment plans or emergency credit for those on prepay energy meters.
While these measures will provide a welcome relief to anyone who is struggling to pay, all gas and electricity used will have to be paid for eventually.
If you are struggling to make payments it’s important you get in touch with your energy supplier as soon as possible.
Can your energy supply be cut off if you’re struggling to pay?
The UK government has assured energy customers that no credit meters will be disconnected during the Covid-19 pandemic.
For those on a prepayment meter, you can generally get emergency credit. Your energy suppliers will try to support you to find ways to keep your energy supply connected if you can’t afford it, if you’re ill or if you’re self-isolating.
However, you will still have to pay back any credit given by your supplier so be sure to ask them how and when you’ll have to do this.
What happens if your energy supplier ceases trading?
During the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen many of the smaller energy suppliers cease trading. Green Network Energy and Simplicity Energy are just the latest casualties.
However, you need not worry about your energy supply being cut-off if your chosen energy supplier goes out of business. Due to Ofgem’s safety net, if your energy supplier does cease trading, a new supplier will be appointed to take on any customers of the collapsed provider.
How does Ofgem’s ‘safety net’ work?
Ofgem will select and move you to a new supplier. Your supply of energy will not be disrupted and you won’t notice any change in your energy supply, other than having a new provider.
Ofgem does recommend that you take a meter reading in the event your energy supplier goes out of business. But they advise against switching your supplier yourself until your new energy supplier has contacted you.
Once your new supplier has made contact, you should ask them to put you on their cheapest tariff. Alternatively, once they made contact you can shop around for a better deal and if you choose to switch you won’t be charged any exit fees. If you do want to switch to a different energy supplier, Monva can help you compare the best deals on the market from over 50 energy suppliers and if you find a deal you like you simply need to click-to-switch.
If you have a smart meter
Ofgem will try to find a supplier that can give you the best deal in the circumstances. However, if the new supplier can’t operate your smart meter in smart mode, it’ll only work as a ‘traditional’ meter. Meaning, meter readings will have to be conducted manually.
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