The energy regulator, Ofgem has put forward new rules to support poorer households who could struggle to pay higher winter fuel bills.
Households across the country have been seriously impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with many seeing a decrease in their incomes and struggling to pay their bills on time. The situation could worsen as the government winds off the furlough scheme.
Under Ofgem`s new rules, all energy suppliers will be required to offer “realistic” debt repayment plans or emergency credit to hard-pressed customers if they are on prepay energy meters from mid-December.
The energy regulator`s retail director, Philippa Pickford has urged customers who are having a hard time paying their bills to contact their suppliers sooner.
Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Energy is an essential service and everyone should be confident they can adequately heat their home and protect their health – especially during a global pandemic.
“Even with this short-term support from suppliers, many people will still struggle to pay for the basics. Government needs to do more to support those who need it most, including making the temporary uplift to universal credit and working tax credit permanent,” she added.
This came after warnings from unions and charities that many people may have a hard time paying their energy bills which are expected to increase as people spend more time at home to work or shield themselves during the second wave of the pandemic.
Ofgem`s rules will enable struggling households to have “some breathing space this winter”.