Most people in the UK use gas, most commonly for heating their home.
If you do, then you’ll know that getting a gas bill can be an expensive shock to your budget.
There are several ways of paying your gas bill
- Pay the whole amount in one lump sum.
- Pay at any post office by cash/cheque.
- Pay monthly over the counter at the local branch of your bank in cash or with a cheque (this may incur a charge).
- Pay at another bank by cash or cheque (this may incur a charge).
- Pay by direct debit or standing order.
- Pay on a budget scheme with regular fixed payments. Ask your gas supplier about the plans available.
- Pay on a flexible payment scheme – ask your gas supplier for further details.
- Pay via a pre-payment or ‘Quantum’ meter.
- Pay your gas bill in with your rent to your landlord if you are a tenant.
- Pay your gas bill with a slot meter in your accommodation if you are a tenant.
- Pay your landlord a service charge if you are a tenant.
If you have requested the service, you are liable for any gas bills in your name. Liability starts from the day the service was connected or from the day you took over an existing supply.
If you move out of your accommodation you may be required to give the supplier at least 48 hours notice in writing. Read your gas meter before you leave the premises.If you do not inform the supplier in advance that you wish to discontinue the service then you will be charged up to the earliest of either:
- 28 days after you give notice that you wish to discontinue,
- or the date of the next meter reading,
- or the date from which another customer asks for a supply to the premises
If your name is not on the gas bill but you have benefited from the use of gas the supplier may claim that you are liable to pay the bill if you have control over its use, e.g. a young person living at home with parents is not considered to have control over use.
If the person named on the bill leaves the premises then the person left behind may be liable for any arrears and will be expected to take over the supply in their name.
If the consumer dies and another adult was living in the premises the supplier may consider them to be liable and will expect them to pay any outstanding bills. If the consumer was living alone at the time of their death the bill will be charged to the estate.
If no estate exists then the bill will be written off.If you feel the bills are high, you may need to check that the correct tariff for billing has been used and also consider energy saving schemes.
Help with gas arrears
If you don’t pay your gas bill you risk being cut off. A gas bill is a priority debt, so you need to deal with it before non- priority debts like credit or store cards personal loans and payday loans. Contact your gas supplier as soon as possible to come to an arrangement to pay off the arrears.
What happens if I miss a gas bill payment?
Your gas supplier will send you a reminder if you miss a payment, if you still do not pay the supplier will offer you a choice of payment options which may be influenced by your previous payment record
If you haven’t had problems paying the bill before, the supplier can offer you a short term arrangement to pay the bill by instalments as long as the arrears are repaid before the next bill is due.
What will the gas company do if I’m in arrears?
Check the accuracy of the bill, whether it is estimated or not, and check if the bill is addressed to you at the right address.
The supplier may suggest installing a pre-payment meter, if you are on benefits you can arrange to repay the arrears in small weekly amounts that are deducted from your benefits. Some gas companies have set up charitable trust funds that can give grants to customers to help them pay their bills
Can the gas company disconnect my supply?
The gas company cannot cut your supply off unless they send a disconnection notice first. They are not allowed to send that notice until at least 28 days after they sent your bill. They have to give you at least seven days’ notice, in writing before disconnection. You may have extra protection from disconnection if you are;
- Of pensionable age
- Have long term health issues
- Are disabled
- Are experiencing severe financial difficulties
- You must inform the gas supplier as soon as possible if you are one of the above.
Paying off your gas arrears
It is important that you contact your supplier as soon as you know there is going to be a problem paying your bill.
Under Ofgem guidelines the supplier has to offer you a method of payment which is most suitable for you and your financial situation, and also your ability to pay.
Draw up a financial statement listing what your household has going in and coming out. Never offer an amount that is unaffordable for you. If the supplier does not agree to your offer pay it to them anyway.
Other ways of paying off your gas arrears include
- Direct debit
Instalments you can make an arrangement to pay the arears weekly, fortnightly or monthly before the next bill is due.
- Budget Plan
You supplier can calculate your annual usage and then add on the arrears. You will then pay a set amount, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly.
- Pre-payment meter
You can ask your supplier to install a meter where you pay in advance for the gas plus an affordable amount towards the arrears. Unfortunately this is very often the most expensive repayment option as you will pay more for the standing charge, and if you cannot afford to top up the meter then your gas supply stops.
- Fuel Direct
You can ask for weekly deductions to be taken from your benefits and be paid directly to your gas supplier, if you are on Job seekers allowance or Income support
Available debt management help.
Gas arrears will need to be prioritised in a debt management plan. You will need to contact your supplier, agree monthly repayments and put the agreed repayments into your financial statement along with payments to the normal bill. You can put your gas arrears into an IVA, meaning they will be treated as any other unsecured creditor, and some of the arrears will be written off.
For immediate and free debt advice please call PayPlan free on 0800 316 1833or use our Debt Help Form to submit your debt problem online.