Utility Debt

A utility bill includes your basic household needs like electricity and gas (in Scotland, your council tax bill includes the cost of water). These utilities are a necessity for keeping the house running and it is not difficult to fall behind on a payment and end up in debt.

There are many reasons someone might find themselves falling behind with their utility payments. Some examples of this are:

    • With energy companies increasing their prices often, you might receive a bill at the end of the month that is larger than expected, that requires you to spend money than you budgeted for.
    • A bill posted to you may end up lost. It is not uncommon for letters to get thrown out accidentally, leaving you without any reference for how much you owe or leading to late payments.
    • Energy companies typically bill you for the amount they estimate you will use throughout the year, but if this estimation is wrong and you use more than you were billed for you will need to pay the bill for the difference
    • With unpredictable weather can come unpredictable utility costs. In times of heavy rain, cold snaps or snow days, a household will generally use more energy. This is because
    • if the outside is cold the home will require more energy to keep warmed and 2) when the weather’s bad people tend to stay home more and end up using more energy.
    • If you move home and switch energy companies you may be in a situation where you are paying for the utilities at your new home while also paying off the old company at your previous address.
    • Switching systems can lead to missed payments, through no fault of yours, as they take time to update. The missed payment will need to be paid for at a later date.
    • Life can be every bit as fickle as the weather, and just as impactful to your ability to keep up with utility payments. Emergencies can happen at any time, potentially leaving you short of money when it comes time to pay your bill.

If you find that you are falling behind with utility payments you can contact your utility company to discuss the issues you are having. If you are transparent and explain your issues, utility companies should be open to working out a realistic course of action for you to pay the debt off, such as a payment plan.

Debts which you owe to your current energy suppliers fall under priority debts, as your energy suppliers – by law – have the powers to cut off your electricity or gas if you have failed to pay.

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