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Three million Brits to face winter owing energy companies £318MILLION – and many will not be able to pay off debt

NEARLY three million Brits are heading into winter owing energy suppliers a whopping £318MILLION, new figures claim. Switching site uSwitch yesterday laid bare the pain felt by customers – claiming ‘energy debt’ was up nine per cent on a year ago.   The research comes just days before the Prime Minister is expected to confirm […]

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NEARLY three million Brits are heading into winter owing energy suppliers a whopping £318MILLION, new figures claim.

Switching site uSwitch yesterday laid bare the pain felt by customers – claiming ‘energy debt’ was up nine per cent on a year ago.

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uSwitch has claimed ‘energy debt’ is up nine per cent on a year ago[/caption]

 

The research comes just days before the Prime Minister is expected to confirm radical plans for a Government-backed cap on energy bills.

An announcement could come as early as tomorrow.

A report by uSwitch claimed that an unseasonably cold August meant Brits had been forced to turn up the heating early.

One in ten households – the equivalent of 2.6 million – owe their supplier £121. Almost a third have no repayment plan or cannot afford to pay the money back.

Claire Osborne, uSwitch energy expert, said households were “paying the price” for a barrage of price rises so far this year.

Alamy
Citizens Advice says vulnerable Brits will have to choose between ‘heating and eating’[/caption]

She urged Brits to shop around for a better deal. “We’re only just into autumn but already millions of households are in debt to their energy supplier.

“A cheaper tariff could mean the difference between shivering through the winter or having a warm home.”

Citizens Advice last week demanded action from the Government on bills – saying vulnerable Brits were having to choose between “heating and eating”.

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How to get help on paying your energy bills this winter – and save up to £765

WITH the nights drawing in and the temperature dropping, millions of us have started to put the heating on. But with more than a third of Brits too scared to reach for the thermostat because their worried about their bills, many households are making the difficult choice stay cold instead. New figures from renewable electricity […]

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WITH the nights drawing in and the temperature dropping, millions of us have started to put the heating on.

But with more than a third of Brits too scared to reach for the thermostat because their worried about their bills, many households are making the difficult choice stay cold instead.

More than a third of Brits are worried about putting the heating on this winter
PA:Press Association

New figures from renewable electricity firm Solarplicity found 32 per cent of homes won’t turn their heating on because they are so worried about the cost, while 43 per cent said they will think twice before turning it on.

Some 16 per cent of households said they spend more than 10 per cent of their monthly income on fuel bills, a hefty chunk of anyone’s wages.

The findings highlight why the Government is so concerned about fuel poverty and sky-high energy bills.

Last month it proposed to cap bills for around 18million households who are on expensive Standard Variable Tariffs (SVTs).

And with Citizens’ Advice finding that energy bills soared by three times the rate of inflation in the past year – £89 – its no wonder people are worried about how they can stay warm.

Energy expert at Community Energy England, Emma Bridge, urged people to get help if they are in difficulty.

There is lots of help available if you are struggling to pay your energy bills
There is lots of help available if you are struggling to pay your energy bills
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She said: “It is important that vulnerable people don’t feel stigmatised about asking for help and that help is readily available locally.

“Cold living conditions can promote cardiovascular illness and condensation damp related respiratory illness. In Britain in 2017, this preventable health risk to the most vulnerable in society is not acceptable.”

But if you’re thinking of keeping the heating off this winter, there are lots of ways you can get help.

Winter fuel payment – get up to £300 

This one-off payment from the Government can get pensioners up to £300 of their fuel bill over the winter months.

To qualify you need to be born on or before January 5, 1953. It’s paid automatically and you’ll be sent a letter telling you how much you’ll get and the date it will be paid – this is usually in November and December.

If you haven’t claimed it before and are not receiving benefits or a state pension, you can apply by visiting the winter fuel payment website.

Cold weather payments – get £25 a week 

You could be entitled to £25 for each week the average temperature in your area is below zero degrees celsius.

Its only available if you receive certain benefits such as Pension Credit, Income Support, or Jobseekers Allowance.

The scheme runs from November 1 to March 31 and there is no cap on the payments.

You will be automatically paid the money into the account your benefits go into within 14 days of the cold-spell being over.

Warm home discount scheme – get £140 a year 

Under the scheme you could get £140 knocked-off your energy bill.

All the major suppliers are signed-up to it and it applies to two main groups – pensioners who receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit  and fuel-poor customers.

If you’re a pensioner the Department of Work and Pensions should identify if your eligible but if you don’t receive the payment but think you should, contact your supplier.

Each supplier has its own criteria for those on low-income but if you are on income support or have children under 5 you should contact your supplier straight away.

If you qualify, you should get a letter by the end of November.

The money won’t be paid into your account but will be taken off your bill.

How to switch suppliers and save £300

Switching suppliers is the best way you can cut your energy bills. But recent research from MoneySuperMarket found that households are throwing away up to £300 a year by not bothering. Here's what you need to do.

1. Shop around – If you’re on an expensive Standard Variable Tariff (SVT) deal you are throwing Away up to £300 a year. Use a comparion site like MoneySuperMarket.com or EnergyHelpline.com to see what best deals are available to you.

The cheapest deals are usually found online and are fixed deals – meaning you’ll pay a fixed amount usually for 12 months.

2. Switch – When you’ve found one, all you have to do is contact the new supplier.

It helps to have the following information – which you can find on your bill –  to hand to give the new supplier.

  • Your postcode
  • Name of your existing supplier
  • Name of your existing deal and how much you pay
  • An up-to-date meter reading

It will then notify your current supplier and begin the switch.

It should take no longer than three weeks to complete the switch and your supply won’t be interrupted in that time.

 

Grants –  to clear your arrears

If you’re in debt with your supplier you might be able to get help from a charitable trust.

Some suppliers like Npower, Scottish Energy, and Ovo offers grants to their customers while others like British Gas and EDF have schemes that are open to anyone.

To apply you’ll have to give details of your financial situation and Citizens’ Advice recommends getting help from charity Charisgrants.com

Can I insulate my home for free to cut down my bills?

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) means the largest energy firms have to help households with energy efficiency measures.

To get help through the scheme, you’ll generally need to be on a low-income (below £16,190) and receive certain benefits but check with your provider to see what it offers.

Earlier this year, E.on announced it was offering free insulation to all households – even to those who aren’t a customer.

The firm says the average family could save up to £285 a year on their heating bills by installing both cavity wall and loft insulation.

You can also be more energy efficient.

The Energy Savings Trust says you can save £55 a year just by turning your thermostat down by one degree celsius.

What to do if you can't pay your bills

Falling behind on your energy bills can be extremely stressful.

Your energy bills are a priority debt – that means you should pay them off before other bills like your credit card as your supplier could threaten to cut your supply-off completely.

But don’t bury your head in the sand. Contact your energy firm as soon as you can and discuss your situation.

It has to help you reach a solution, likely through a payment plan.

This is where you pay a fixed-amount which you can afford over a set period of time.

The plan will cover the debt you owe and the energy you are using now.

If you can’t reach an agreement, your supplier might insist on installing a pre-payment meter but this is only as a last resort.


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Are you one of 4.5million renters missing out on £353 a year from your energy supplier?

MILLIONS of renters could be missing out on savings adding up to an average of £346 a year because they don’t realise they can switch to better energy deals, according to new research. Consumer group Which? believes that 4.5 million renters are missing out on huge savings. This is because most comparison websites automatically show […]

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MILLIONS of renters could be missing out on savings adding up to an average of £346 a year because they don’t realise they can switch to better energy deals, according to new research.

Consumer group Which? believes that 4.5 million renters are missing out on huge savings.

Renters could be missing out on HUGE savings
PA:Press Association

This is because most comparison websites automatically show you the best deal based on annual savings.

Which? has launched a new energy comparison service where renters can compare the best detail based on their tenancy length.

As part of its research Which? found that half of renters have been with their current supplier for more than five years.

While a quarter of renters have never switched suppliers at all.

It believes that enters could be missing out on potential savings of an average of £346 over a year by switching from the most expensive Big Six standard variable tariff to the cheapest deal on the market.

Some tenants are put off switching because of terms in their contracts.

Many include clauses which ask renters to get the permission of the landlord before switching.

But what tenants don’t realise is that landlords should not hold them back from moving suppliers.

How to cut your energy bills now

YOU don't need to wait for the new legislation to get lower bills.

If in doubt, call your provider and ask them to move you to their cheapest tariff.

Better still, use a comparison website like MoneySuperMarket.com or Energyhelpline.com to find the very best deal for you.

The cheapest tariffs are usually found online and are fixed deals – meaning you guarantee how much you’ll pay for a set amount of time, usually 12 months.

Switching to a cheaper supplier could cut your bill by up to £300 a year.

The amount you pay varies depending on where you live and how much energy you use


We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Money team? Email us at money@the-sun.co.uk or call 0207 78 24516


Continue Reading

Bills

Are you one of 4.5million renters missing out on £353 a year from your energy supplier?

MILLIONS of renters could be missing out on savings adding up to an average of £346 a year because they don’t realise they can switch to better energy deals, according to new research. Consumer group Which? believes that 4.5 million renters are missing out on huge savings. This is because most comparison websites automatically show […]

Published

on

By

MILLIONS of renters could be missing out on savings adding up to an average of £346 a year because they don’t realise they can switch to better energy deals, according to new research.

Consumer group Which? believes that 4.5 million renters are missing out on huge savings.

Renters could be missing out on HUGE savings
PA:Press Association

This is because most comparison websites automatically show you the best deal based on annual savings.

Which? has launched a new energy comparison service where renters can compare the best detail based on their tenancy length.

As part of its research Which? found that half of renters have been with their current supplier for more than five years.

While a quarter of renters have never switched suppliers at all.

It believes that enters could be missing out on potential savings of an average of £346 over a year by switching from the most expensive Big Six standard variable tariff to the cheapest deal on the market.

Some tenants are put off switching because of terms in their contracts.

Many include clauses which ask renters to get the permission of the landlord before switching.

But what tenants don’t realise is that landlords should not hold them back from moving suppliers.

How to cut your energy bills now

YOU don't need to wait for the new legislation to get lower bills.

If in doubt, call your provider and ask them to move you to their cheapest tariff.

Better still, use a comparison website like MoneySuperMarket.com or Energyhelpline.com to find the very best deal for you.

The cheapest tariffs are usually found online and are fixed deals – meaning you guarantee how much you’ll pay for a set amount of time, usually 12 months.

Switching to a cheaper supplier could cut your bill by up to £300 a year.

The amount you pay varies depending on where you live and how much energy you use


We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Money team? Email us at money@the-sun.co.uk or call 0207 78 24516


Continue Reading

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