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David Neal

Energy Firms told to understand their customers financial position when settling fuel debt arrears programmes

Energy Firms told to understand their customers financial position when settling fuel debt arrears programmes

Despite noting that progress has been made the countries energy suppliers have been told they still need to do more when it comes to helping customers who have got into arrears with their gas and electricity bills.

The Energy regulator Ofgem and the consumer group Consumer Focus have concluded that not enough consideration is being given to customers ability to repay when setting up debt repayment programmes.

New rules are now being put in place to tackle this issue, including establishing their customers financial circumstances to ensure the agreed repayment level is fair and ensuring that the customers understand the arrangement.

"While the number of energy customers in debt has remained relatively stable over the past 18 months, the amount that they owe has been increasing" says Sarah Harrison, from Ofgem.

She continues "In these difficult economic times, it is important suppliers set debt repayment levels appropriate to customers' circumstances and ability to pay."

Citizens Advice report that their advisors are now dealing with 33% more fuel debt issues than this time last year and speaking on behalf of that organisation Teresa Perchard said "It is clear that many people continue to struggle to pay for their gas and electricity bills."