If you’re struggling to pay your energy bill, we’ll do all we can to help.
The first step is to get in touch and let us know.
Our friendly team will:
- Assess your ability to pay by finding out about your family income and expenditure
- Discuss your individual circumstances, such as whether you or anyone in your household is vulnerable
- Offer ways to help you pay any overdue or future bills
- Offer energy efficiency advice to help you reduce your energy costs.
Possible solutions we may be able to offer include:
- Agreeing that you can repay a debt to us as installments
- Agreeing that you can pay future bills to us as installments
- Installing a prepayment meter at your property where it is safe and/or practical to do so
- Arranging for payment directly from benefits through the Fuel Direct scheme if you are on certain means-tested benefits.
- Agreeing that you can defer payment for a short period of time
While we agree on a plan for you, it’s important that you keep sending us regular meter readings, so that we have an accurate record of how much energy you’ve used. Read our advice on how to read your meter if you’re unsure how to do this.
It’s also important that you continue to make payments as regularly as you can, even if you cannot provide the full amount. This will help to avoid a large outstanding balance.
Protecting your credit rating
You’re legally obliged to pay for the energy you use. If you don’t make regular payments, this could result in further action being taken against you which could lead to a negative impact on your credit rating.
If we're unable to talk to you
If payments are outstanding on your account and we’ve not been able to speak to you despite several attempts, we’ll ask one of our debt collection agencies, OPOS and CRS, to contact you to organise payment.
OPOS and CRS are accredited companies who specialise in collections for energy suppliers and will contact you on our behalf in a variety of ways (email, telephone call, text as well as letter).
If OPOS or CRS have contacted you, please get back to them using the details they’ve provided. They’ll work with you to explore the best route to clear any balance outstanding on your account.
Installing a pre-payment meter
We'll offer to install a prepayment meter in your home if you have declined our proposals for payment.
If we have been unable to make contact with you, we may arrange for a Debt Counselling Agent (DCA) from Grosvenor Services to visit your property to discuss the options available.
If you decline our offer of a prepayment meter, or if we continue to be unable to make contact with you, we may need to apply to a magistrate for a warrant to access the property and install a prepayment meter without your consent.
If we install a prepayment meter to help you repay your debt to Bristol Energy, we will advise you of:
- How much money you owe and why
- The amount of debt that we’ll recover through the prepayment meter each week
- Details of any standing charges that you’ll have to pay
- How long it will take to clear the debt at the agreed repayment rate
- How to operate your prepayment meter
- The amount of emergency credit available on your prepayment meter and how this works
- A telephone number for advice and emergencies; and details of any charges for replacing lost or damaged prepayment devices.
If it’s unsafe or impractical to install a prepayment meter, we’ll make a further attempt to agree a repayment plan, taking into account all information that we have about your individual circumstances and ability to pay.
We may also prevent you from switching away from Bristol Energy to another supplier until the debt is repaid. However, if you have a prepayment meter and your debt is £500 or less, you may switch to another supplier provided they agree that you can repay the debt to them, rather than to us.
We’d always prefer to avoid further action, but we may be required to take steps if you:
- Fail to keep to an agreed repayment plan
- Interfere or tamper with a prepayment meter
- Refuse to enter into a repayment plan when we’ve been unable to install a prepayment meter
- Are eligible for the Fuel Direct Scheme but refuse to make use of this.
Before we make any decision we’ll always consider your individual circumstances.
If you’re struggling to make payments, you may like some independent advice. The following organisations will be able to help you to manage your finances and offer you advice on the benefits you could be entitled to.
Citizens Advice – Energy
Telephone: 0345 404 0506
Talking Money (formally Bristol Debt Advice Centre)
1 Hide Market
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 0808 808 4000
1-6 Tavistock Square
Telephone: 0800 169 8787
Telephone: 0800 470 8090
Ty John Pathy
13/14 Neptune Court
Vanguard Way, Cardiff
Telephone: 0800 022 3444
The Disabled Living Foundation
Telephone: 0300 999 0004
Ombudsman Services: Energy
PO Box 966
Telephone: 0330 440 1624
Energy Saving Trust
21 Dartmouth Street
Telephone: 0300 123 1234
Second Floor, Ocean Point
94 Ocean Drive, Edinburgh
Telephone: 0808 808 2282
Caspian Point, Caspian Way
Cardiff Bay, Cardiff
Telephone: 0300 123 1234
Grosvenor Services is a subsidiary of Bristol-based customer service specialist, Echo Managed Services. Grosvenor is vastly experienced in this area and the team focuses on engaging sensitively with customers whilst fully understanding their circumstances and any vulnerabilities. Grosvenor is passionate about great customer service, even in more sensitive and difficult situations.
With one of the largest field teams operating throughout the UK, Grosvenor provides customer-centric solutions to major blue-chip organisations, working predominantly in the UK utilities industry. FCA and ISO 9001 accredited, Grosvenor is also a member of the Institute of Customer Service and was named the UK’s best outsourced collections provider at the 2017 Credit Awards, the largest and most prestigious awards programme in the credit and collections industry.
If you receive Pension Credit, Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance, you may be able to take advantage of the Fuel Direct Scheme. On this scheme the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) takes money each week to the value of the current Fuel Direct rate from your benefits. They then pay us the money you owe for any electricity and/or gas debt you have with us as well as for your current usage. It will usually take two weeks for us to set this up with the DWP.