New rules are being introduced from 15 December to help the most vulnerable who struggle to pay their energy bills in Salford this winter

Energy supplier Ofgem has updated its licence rules to formally and strictly require suppliers to help customers in financial difficulty.

From 15 December, all suppliers must be required to offer emergency or extra prepayment credit to households in vulnerable circumstances.

The regulator also wants to ensure that suppliers have appropriate credit management policies, set repayment rates based on a customers ability to pay, and keep regularly in touch with all of its clients.

Ofgem’s director of retail Philippa Pickford said. “Suppliers have stepped up to the challenge of supporting their customers during the Covid-19 crisis, especially those in vulnerable situations.

“Customers who are struggling to pay their bills should contact their supplier as soon as possible. The extra protections we have announced today will help ensure they get some breathing space this winter.”

This comes after the government promised to put a cap on the energy bills of 15 million homes until at least the end of next year after agreeing to extend the energy price cap until March 2021. The cap is estimated to be between £75 to £100 a year for homes using standard dual fuel energy tariff.

A study by Citizens Advice UK estimated that six million people are behind on paying at least one household bill during the current pandemic.

What if I can’t pay my energy bills?

At this moment in time, your energy supplier will not disconnect your gas or electricity due to the pandemic. Even if you miss a payment, your energy will not stop.

If you’re struggling to afford your gas and electricity bills, contact your supplier to discuss ways to pay them. Your supplier is required to help you find a solution. Tell your supplier that you want to pay off outstanding payments through instalments as part of a type of payment plan.

Note, if you have a prepayment meter and you don’t top it up, your energy supply might still stop. You need to inform your supplier if you cannot afford to top up as they are required to help you find other ways to keep your energy supply connected.

You can also contact foundations such as Citizens Advice UK and Energy Saving Trust. Your case may be eligible to be referred to the Extra Help Unit, who can negotiate with your supplier on your behalf.

For more information, visit Ofgem website

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