Prepayment energy with everything costing more – what if I can’t top up?
Advice Column August 2022
The cost of energy and food is so high now. In the school holidays I’m having to pay more for lunches and snacks. I’m worried about how I’ll put food on the table. I’m on a prepayment meter and I’m really scared we’re going to be left without gas or electric if I can’t top up. What can I do?
First of all you’re doing the right thing in reaching out for support. There are lots of things you can get help with.
As a prepayment meter customer, your energy supplier can give you temporary credit if you can’t afford to top up. They might add this to your meter automatically, but if not you can call them and ask them to do this. If you run out of temporary credit, speak to your supplier to explain your situation. They may give you extra credit if you’re struggling.
There are other reasons why they might give you extra credit too. If you’re disabled, have a long-term health condition, or have children under the age of 5. You’ll have to pay back, but you can agree with your supplier how to do this in a way you can afford.
Government support payments
As you say, the cost of living is really high but there is help available. If you pay council tax and you’re in bands A-D, you should get a payment of £150 automatically. It could take until the end of September, but if you’ve not had it already you might need to make a claim. You can check how to do this on the council website. You might also be able to get a fuel voucher, which you can use to add credit to your meter. Again the council may be able to help.
There’s more government support coming from October, including a £400 payment to help with energy bills. As a prepayment customer, you’ll get vouchers in the first week of each month starting in October. The vouchers will come by SMS text, email or post. But make sure your energy company has your up-to-date details.
Are you missing out on benefits you should get?
To help manage other costs, it’s also worth checking you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to. There are benefits calculators you can use online. Our Citizens Advice website has advice about how to reduce living costs and information on other ways to increase your income.
The school holidays can be a really tough time and we know the food shop isn’t stretching as far. Contact your local council to find out what extra support you can get over the holidays. If you can’t afford to buy food, we can help you get a referral for a food bank.
We know this is an extremely worrying time and everyone’s situation is different. Don’t struggle alone. If you need further support, contact Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell or call the national advice line: 0800 144 8848.