Struggling to pay energy bills? 7 ways to get support

Hands of a person struggling to pay energy bills holding fairy lights.

1. Contact your energy supplier

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills (because of the energy price cap increase or otherwise), it’s important that you contact your energy supplier as soon as you can. Ofgem is responsible for protecting vulnerable consumers and making sure suppliers support you in any way they can, which means there are some rules in place to help you that energy suppliers must follow.

Under these rules you can ask your supplier about options such as: changing your payment plan so it’s more affordable, giving you more time to pay, offering access to hardship funds or grants and offering advice on how to use less energy.

If you cannot reach a solution with your energy supplier, there are some organisations that may be able to help. If you’re in England or Wales, head to Citizens Advice. If you’re in a vulnerable situation, their Extra Help Unit could support you to make a complaint. If you’re in Scotland, check out Citizens Advice Scotland and Energy Advice Scotland.

2. Access a grant to pay your energy debts

If you’re in debt to your energy supplier, you may be able to access a grant to pay this off. You can find out what grants are available through Citizens Advice (England/​Wales), Charis (UK-wide) or Home Heating Advice (Scotland).

3. Get emergency credit (prepayment meters only)

If you use a prepayment meter and can’t afford to top it up, you can normally activate a small amount (usually £10) of emergency credit’ either directly through your meter or by contacting your energy supplier.

You may be charged a fee for this, so it’s usually best to contact your energy supplier directly if you cannot afford to top up your prepayment meter. They may also be able to offer you support such as an adjusted payment plan.

You can read more information from Citizens Advice on what to do if you can’t afford to top up your prepayment meter.

4. Join the Priority Services Register

The Priority Services Register is a free service that energy suppliers and network operators offer, to help support people in vulnerable situations.

If you have reached state pension age, have a long-term medical condition or disability, are recovering from an injury, have a hearing or sight condition, have a mental health condition, are pregnant or have young children, or have extra communication needs (such as not speaking or reading English well), you are eligible to join the the Priority Services Register. You may also be able to join for other reasons, such as if you need short-term support after being in hospital.

You can join the Priority Services Register by getting in touch with your energy supplier(s) and telling them as much as you can about your current needs. If you rely on energy supply for your medical needs, they’ll pass this information on to your network operator too, to make sure you’re the first to know about any planned power cuts, and are prioritised to receive support in an emergency.

Joining the Priority Services Register also means you’ll benefit from being able to: nominate someone else to receive bills and communications from your supplier, get help with prepayment meter access (e.g. moving it to somewhere you can safely access it), get regular meter readings, receive accessible communications (like large print or braille) and access other support services.

5. Check if you’re eligible for any benefits

Depending on your situation, you may be entitled to benefits. Use our benefits calculator to see if you could claim any benefits that you’re not currently.

You can find more about what personal and financial details you’ll need to have ready to be able to calculate your benefit entitlement on the GOV.UK website.

6. Check if you’re eligible for any extra help or discounts

The Cold Weather Payment is extra financial support provided by the UK Government to people in receipt of certain benefits to help cover the additional costs of energy bills during very cold weather.

The Winter Fuel Payment, also called the heating allowance, is a tax-free payment towards the cost of heating bills, for people who were aged 66 or older on the 25 September this year.

The Warm Home Discount is a one off discount on your electricity bill. It’s intended to help people living on a low income or on a pension with the cost of energy bills during the winter.

7. Get free debt help

If you’re struggling with debt, please don’t ignore it. Our CAP Debt Help service is totally free of charge and is available across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Get started on your debt free journey today.

You can also explore other free debt help options available, through organisations such as StepChange, National Debtline or PayPlan.

Further support and advice

If you’re struggling to afford enough food for you or your family, read our guide to accessing your local foodbank.

Access your local foodbank