The growing coronavirus pandemic, known as COVID-19, has forced the UK residents into self-isolation to stop the further spread and mutation of the virus, which could lead to energy bills skyrocketing once the situation escapes the worst.
To answer this horrid reality, Big Six suppliers EDF Energy and British Gas have announced that families who might be struggling to pay their dues can get the help they need.
These measures are timely amid the consumers’ worries that they may lose their pay or jobs entirely due to the government strongly recommending self-isolation. It is especially advised for those who have come in contact with someone infected with COVID-19 or presenting the symptoms. It also includes people who have travelled to an already affected area.
With energy consumption poised to climb up due to the outbreak, paying bills could become a significant issue for a lot of consumers across the country. For this, several energy suppliers have announced their offers for their customers.
EDF Energy would be considering delayed payments for any of its customers affected by the outbreak. It may also offer different forms of support, including repayments fulfiled at a much later time and other alternative payment schemes.
An EDF spokesperson said it would consider payment delays from people who have been forced to work from home or are self-isolated for fear of having contracted the coronavirus.
For prepayment meter customers in self-isolation, the firm suggests having someone else, whether a family member or friend, to make the top-up. If no one is available to do so, the supplier will be able to mail through the post some preloaded cards and keys for them.
Another Big Six supplier, British Gas, stated its intention of pushing back energy bill deadlines for consumers affected by the outbreak. It could also remove debt charges incurred by late payments
The decision will be handled on a case-to-case basis, although these measures are targeted towards vulnerable customers.
For British Gas prepayment meter customers, the supplier suggests using the automated top-up service over the phone or online.
For consumers with traditional prepayment meters, they are eligible to access the emergency credit feature, which could last the entire isolation period. If the customer runs out of credit before their isolation ends, they are urged to contact British Gas to raise their concern and discover more options for getting additional power supply.
E.ON will handle queries on a case-to-case basis, with the supplier encouraging clients to manage their accounts using available online channels. It further stated that it would not cut off supply should a customer fail to pay their bills on time.
The supplier will instead offer as much as thirty days of allowance for making payments and other forms of support depending on the individual’s situation.
Customers of Npower are encouraged to use online account management and reach out to the supplier should the crisis directly affect their ability to pay their energy bills. As for payment arrangements, the company may offer 30 extra days of breathing space to fulfil payments or to spread the statements via direct debit over the remaining months of the year.
The supplier will also be reviewing the amount that the customer can pay, taking into account circumstances like having shortened work hours or being forced off work.
Prepayment meter customers are urged to contact Npower if they are currently in isolation and are unable to top-up their credit.
SSE tells its customers to reach out to them if they find it hard to pay their energy bills at the time being, although the supplier hasn’t specified the type of support it will offer. They may call 0345 070 7373 for their concerns.
Scottish Power is yet to announce any measure of support they plan to give their clients in line with the ongoing crisis.
For Ovo Energy customers, the supplier can be contacted on 0330 303 5063 for queries.
Bulb is offering more extended repayment periods and alternative payment methods for customers needing additional support for their energy bills. The company representatives have also contacted prepayment meter users to help them if they need to self-isolate.