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Affordability and debt in the domestic retail market  

A woman in a modern office waiting on the telephone
15 May 2024

Financial support and energy debts are covered in a quarter of calls to our energy advice line and one to one support.

In the Centre for Sustainable Energy’s (CSE) response to Ofgem’s call for input into Affordability and debt in the domestic retail market,  we strongly support policy recommendations from National Energy Action (NEA).  

NEA has highlighted the lack of transparency around the use of price cap allowances to service debt. Currently, suppliers collect between £1bn and £1.5bn through their price cap allowances. The majority of this funding goes towards servicing debt and it’s not clear how much of this is directly allocated to reducing debt costs. We agree that Ofgem should mandate the use of some of the debt allowances to write off debt.   

At CSE, our energy advisors support people on low incomes, living in cold homes with very high energy bills. Financial support and energy debts are covered in a quarter of the enquiries we respond to through our energy advice line and one to one support.   

Everyone deserves to live in a warm and comfortable home without the burden of unaffordable energy bills. Wendy’s story is a testament to CSE’s commitment to ensuring energy affordability and debt relief for those in need. 

Wendy’s warmth and wellbeing: a journey to energy affordability 

Wendy, a resident of Swindon, found herself entangled in a complex billing dispute with her energy supplier, Scottish Power. Faced with ongoing issues related to her former address, mounting debt, and confusion over her monthly payments, she turned to CSE for help through our Warm and Safe Wiltshire project

With Wendy’s hearing impairment and lack of digital access, we prioritised face-to-face interactions, conducting multiple home visits to ensure clear communication and a thorough understanding of her needs. 

Through persistent advocacy and detailed discussions with Scottish Power, we navigated the intricate billing discrepancies, negotiated solutions, and ensured that Wendy’s concerns were heard and addressed. Our collaborative efforts paid off, resulting in a refund cheque of approximately £400 and a £50 goodwill gesture from the supplier, acknowledging the inconvenience caused. 

But our impact extended beyond financial relief. Wendy’s emotional wellbeing was at the centre of our approach. Stressed and confused by the mounting debt, Wendy was at her wits end when she first spoke to our advisor. By alleviating her worries about affording her heating during the winter months and empowering her with a better understanding of her bills, we nurtured a sense of confidence and independence in her interactions with her energy supplier. 

Your dedication and personal touch made all the difference for me. I felt truly heard and supported throughout the process. Thank you for going above and beyond to resolve my billing issues.


At CSE, we’re committed to ensuring that no one is left behind in the pursuit of energy affordability and debt relief. Wendy’s story is a powerful reminder of the impact we can have on individuals’ lives but much more needs to be done. We desperately need more support for householders in the form of a help to pay scheme that’s backed by the Government. 

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