Utility bills include all essential services associated with your home. While these may change depending on the household, they can include gas, electricity, water, TV licenses, Wi-Fi, and council tax.
Utility bills debts are any debts associated with basic household costs, these can include electricity, gas, and water bills. These are usually taken monthly and failing to keep up with utility bill payments can see these services revoked and further charges may be applied.
What are utility bills?
Utility bills include all essential services associated with your home. While these may change depending on the household, they typically include gas, electricity, water, TV licenses, Wi-Fi, and council tax. These are all services associated with keeping your home comfortable and liveable. Utility bills are often taken every month, sometimes as a set contract limit or as a rolling contract.
How could I go into debt with my utility bills?
If you fail to make payments to your utilities each month, you could fall into debt with your providers. This can happen particularly in times of rising costs and higher living expenses. As wholesale prices rise, service providers such as energy and gas companies will charge more for services.
In the UK, energy charges are capped up to a certain limit, known as the energy price cap.
What happens if I can’t pay my utility bills?
If you’re unable to pay your utility bills, you’ll fall into arrears with your service providers. Once in arrears, you’ll be expected to make up any missed payments and may be charged late fees. If you’re still unable to pay, you could risk losing the service and having your access switched off as a result.
If your utility bill debt continues to go unpaid, the debt can be passed over to a debt collection agency, who will begin to chase you for the debt alongside any additional fees they may apply. This contact can escalate from phone calls and letters to legal action.
Can my utilities be shut off if I’m unable to pay my utility bills?
Yes, if you continue to leave your utility bills unpaid your supplier can disconnect your supply, though there are rules, known as the disconnection process, that suppliers must follow before switching off your supply.
Suppliers must wait 28 days from the date of your unpaid bill before they can take action to turn off your supply.
Suppliers cannot turn off your supply without due warning. Once the 28-day period has elapsed, suppliers must give you a seven-day notice, in writing, before disconnecting your supply.
Tips for paying your utility bills
It’s important to keep on top of your household utility bills to avoid going into debt with your providers. Paying your priority bills should be at the top of your financial list and should be your main focus when budgeting.
Here are some tips for paying your utility bills:
If you’re struggling with your utility bills, the first step should be to call your supplier. By calling your supplier early, you can help minimise the damage of missed payments and may be able to discuss any support plans or packages that might help with your payments. Suppliers have several systems in place to protect vulnerable customers, so be sure to reach out if you feel you need additional support.
With so many bills and essential payments coming out each month it can be hard to keep track of everything. Keeping a written budget for all of your utility bills can help you get a clearer idea of exactly how much you’re paying each month. This can ensure that you always know exactly how much you’ll need to pay to keep your utilities and essentials in order.
If you’re struggling to pay your utilities, it’s important to find out if you’re eligible for any help or assistance to ensure your utilities are covered. It’s estimated that over £13 billion in UK benefits go unclaimed. If you’re unsure if you may be entitled, you can find out through benefits checks with Turn2Us or through the GOV.UK website.
It’s called smart for a reason! A smart meter can give you a detailed look at your energy use, ensuring that you know exactly what you’re spending and where. By installing a smart meter, you can be more energy-conscious and save on your energy costs.
Can my utility debts be written off?
While you can attempt to have your utility bill debts written off by contacting your supplier, it’s unlikely that this will be accepted and is reserved for very extreme circumstances of unaffordability.
However, your supplier will likely offer you a more affordable repayment plan to help you repay your debts. They may also remove extra charges and late fees to help make your debts more manageable.
Is there help available for utility bill debt?
If you’re struggling to keep on top of your utility bills, help is available. First, you should see if you can be put onto your supplier’s priority services register. This is a service provided by energy suppliers and internet providers that offers those struggling some extra support.
You should also check to see if you’re entitled to any benefits or government help. You can check what you may be entitled to on the government website here.
You may also be able to apply for Breathing Space. Also known as the Debt Respite Scheme, this is a government scheme that gives people struggling with debt a break from their debts for up to 60 days.
Finally, if you’re still struggling with your utility debts you should seek debt advice from a professional debt advisor. With a debt advisor, you can review your finances and debts and come up with a debt solution that works for you.
For free debt advice, you can visit MoneyHelper.
If you wish to speak to a MoneyPlus advisor, you can click here to learn more.