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Your small business can't afford its energy bills

This advice applies to England

If you can’t pay your supplier

If you've been told you'll be disconnected call the consumer helpline. They can help you resolve the problem with your supplier.

There are steps you can take if you're finding it hard to pay your small business's energy bills.

What you should do depends on if:

  • you're already in debt to your supplier
  • you've been sent a bill you can't afford
  • you're regularly struggling to pay your bills

Check if something is an energy scam

Energy scams are on the rise. 

Scammers have different ways of getting hold of personal information or bank details. For example, by pretending to: 

  • be a supplier offering a refund

  • be from Ofgem - asking for information so you can get the £400 energy rebate

  • be a debt collector asking for money owed to a supplier that’s gone bust

  • offer green home improvement grants

  • offer energy investment opportunities

  • offer cheap prepayment meter top up keys or cards

  • offer energy-saving devices

Check if something is a scam.

You can also contact our scams advisers if you:

  • think you might have found an online scam

  • need advice about scams

  • want to report an online scam

Talk to a scams adviser.

If you're in debt to your energy supplier

It's important to act quickly - your energy supply could be disconnected within 30 days if you don't make arrangements to deal with the debt.

If you're disconnected, you'll normally have a disconnection fee added to the money you owe. You'll need to pay another fee if you're reconnected.

Call the consumer helpline - they can help you resolve the problem with your supplier.

You'll need to give information about how much money you owe - it's worth gathering any bills or letters from your energy supplier before you call.

If you've had a bill you can't afford

If you think the bill is wrong you should challenge it - call your supplier and ask how it's been calculated.

If the bill is right but you can't pay it, ask if you can arrange a payment plan. Work out a budget before you call so you know you can afford the payments.

Contact the consumer helpline if your energy company won't let you arrange a repayment plan.

Check you haven't been overcharged

If you're a 'microbusiness' you can only be billed for energy you've used in the last 12 months.

Your company will normally count as a microbusiness if it either:

  • has fewer than 10 employees or turns over less than £1.8 million a year
  • uses no more than 100,000 kWh of electricity
  • uses no more than 293,000 kWh of gas per year

Check your bill or ask your supplier if you're not sure how much energy you use per year.

If you think you've been overcharged, call your energy supplier and complain.

Explain that because you're a microbusiness you can't be billed for energy used more than 12 months ago.

If you're struggling to pay your bills

If you often find it hard to pay your energy bills there are things you can do to try to reduce them.

Switch supplier

Check if you can switch to a different energy supplier.

​​You won’t find many energy tariffs on price comparison websites at the moment - this is because of changes in the energy industry. If you don’t find a better tariff than the one you’re already on, it’s probably better to wait until deals are available again.

If your energy supplier goes bust 

Don’t switch tariff or supplier until your account is moved to the new supplier. You might find it harder to get any money you’re owed if you switch before this happens. 

Read our advice about what to do if your energy supplier goes bust.

Make sure you're being billed accurately

If your supplier is estimating your bills you might be paying more than you need to each month.

Take regular meter readings and send them to your supplier. Set up a monthly reminder on your phone or calendar so you don't forget.

It's worth asking if your supplier can take other steps to keep your bills accurate - for example, by giving you a smart meter.

Make your business energy efficient

There are ways to reduce how much electricity and gas you use - for example, you can:

  • switch off computers and other equipment overnight if they aren't being used
  • use energy efficient light bulbs
  • make sure your premises are insulated against drafts
  • only use as much hot water as you need and fix any leaking hot taps

If you need more help

If you need more advice about dealing with your energy bills, contact the consumer helpline. They can give you unbiased advice about small business energy contracts and your rights.

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