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At Love Energy Savings, our mission is simple – to get you on the cheapest energy tariff for your needs. For those overpaying for the energy they use, switching to a cheaper energy supplier is a simple way to improve your finances.

However, for millions of people looking to switch energy supplier with debt, it can be more complicated. This page will answer some of the common questions about changing energy supplier while in debt and explain your rights and what you can do to ensure your energy bills are low.

Can my current energy supplier stop me switching?

If you have an outstanding debt to your energy supplier, they can legally stop you from switching in some cases. But it depends on how long you have had the debt and the meter that you have.

Your energy company can stop you switching if:

  • The energy bills are not in your name. You will need permission from the bill payer, often the landlord.
  • You pay monthly or quarterly and have a debt of 28 days or more, your current supplier can stop you from switching. If you have debt for less than 28 days, the amount will be added to your final bill.
  • Your meter is not supported by the new supplier or tariff

Rights as a pre-payment meter user

If you have a prepayment meter, you will be free to move over to a new energy supplier and transfer debts of up to the value of £500 for gas and £500 for electricity over to your new provider.

This process is referred to as the Debt Assignment Protocol (DAP). You will be required to use your prepayment meter with your new supplier until you have paid off your debts. However, once you have cleared your debts, you should be able to shop around for a cheaper gas prices and electricity deals.

Rights as a standard meter user

If you have a standard meter, whether on a fixed rate tariff or not, and you owe money to your current energy supplier, you will only be able to switch to a new supplier once you have paid off your debts. In this instance, your current supplier must write to you and outline its reasons for blocking your request to switch.

It should also provide you with advice on managing your debts, improving your energy efficiency, and comparing electricity prices by switching tariffs.

Will my energy supplier help me with my outstanding debt?

Yes, and the best thing to do is to contact them right away to discuss the situation and arrange the easiest way for you to repay the amount owed.

Will I be disconnected from my energy supplier?

This happens very rarely but it is possible eventually, which is why if you have outstanding debt you are struggling to pay you should call your energy supplier as soon as possible.

Your energy supplier will contact you to give you notice that you will be disconnected, but they will first offer to install a prepayment meter or offer you a repayment plan.

Some categories of people are legally protected from being disconnected:

  • A pensioner living alone
  • A pensioner living with children under five

The 6 largest suppliers (British Gas, EDF Energy, npower, E.on, Scottish Power and SSE) have signed an agreement that you won’t be disconnected if you have:

  • A disability
  • A long-term health problems
  • Severe financial problems
  • Young children

Other suppliers are unlikely to threaten to disconnect you, but they can legally do so.

I am struggling to repay my debt, what can I do?

Your first point of call should be with your energy supplier. If you need additional support there are a number of options available.

If you are on a low income, you may qualify for the government’s Warm Home Discount Scheme

If you receive certain benefits, you may be eligible for the Fuel Direct Scheme. The scheme works by deducting small amounts directly from your benefits and gradually clearing your debt.

For support contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline. If you’d like more advice from the energy experts at Love Energy Savings, check out our latest energy guides and advice.