Easing the burden of fuel debt

Why did Peter whoop for joy?

2 November 2015

Last Monday we passed on some very good news to one of our clients (let’s call him Peter), a pensioner struggling on a low income; following our appeal to his energy company, £1,680 of fuel debt on his prepayment meter account was cancelled.

This claim was made as part of our Comic Relief funded work to support people on prepayment meters in Bristol, Weston-super-Mare and Bath.

Debt had mounted on Peter’s account, because he was on a single rate electricity tariff rather than Economy 7, which is a better option for homes like his where the hot water supply and rooms are electrically heated. Once in debt, he struggled with repayments, not least because he was already using part of his pension to help care for an ill relative. He opted to be put on a prepayment meter to help him budget and make his repayments more manageable, although the debt was still a grave concern.

After assessing his situation, one of our energy advisors, Mark, put in the application to Peter’s energy supplier to cancel the debt back in July. 

“Peter is retired and his only income is his state pension and pension credit, explained Mark. He struggles to make ends meet, does not have a very high quality of life and his health is deteriorating."

“In his situation every penny really does make a difference and the additional £3.65 a week which he is not spending on debt repayments will help him with his weekly budget. It will also be a huge relief for Peter not having such a large amount of debt hanging over him.

Mark has also shown Peter how best to use his heating systems with the cheaper night tariff. Both Mark and Peter are delighted with the outcome. “He was whooping when I told him the news about the debt being erased,” said Mark.


Other ways we can help

As well as support with energy debt, our advisors can help you:

  • Set up a bank account that will allow you to use a credit meter, so you can pay monthly or quarterly for your energy. This will give you access to more, cheaper tariffs.
  • Switch to a smart prepayment meter, giving more ways to pay for your energy and can keep track of your energy use.
  • Search for the best energy tariff available to you and switch supplier if needed.
  • Check if you’re receiving the benefits you’re entitled to and whether there are any one-off grant offers you can claim.

Our energy advice site for householders is at www.cse.org.uk/advice

Stay up to date with our work - sign up for our fortnightly newsletter