How to avoid gas and electricity disconnection

Contact your energy supplier as soon as possible if you’re having problems paying your energy bills. You can usually sort out an alternative to disconnection.

Agree the amount you owe

Gas and electricity bills are often based on estimated meter readings.

Before you start negotiations with your energy supplier, take a fresh meter reading  from your gas or electricity meter.

Contact your energy supplier and ask for the bill to be recalculated based on the new meter reading.

Agree a repayment plan

Ask if your supplier will arrange a weekly, fortnightly or monthly payment plan. The amount you pay will include an:

  • estimated amount for the fuel you use
  • amount for the arrears

Make sure you only agree to pay an amount you can manage. Your supplier shouldn’t try to get you to clear the arrears any faster than you can afford to.

Pay arrears direct from your benefits

You can ask to have your fuel bill and arrears paid directly from any of the following benefits:

  • universal credit
  • income support
  • income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA)
  • income-related employment and support allowance (ESA)
  • pension credit.

An amount is deducted from your regular benefit payment and paid to your fuel supplier every three months. This is sometimes called Fuel Direct.

This option may help you to budget for your fuel costs over the year. It spreads the cost of winter bills. It could make the difference between having the heating on or not. Find out more from

Contact a welfare benefits adviser if you have trouble setting up Fuel Direct. You can contact a welfare benefits adviser at Advicelink Cymru. or find out more about getting beenfits advice ot Money Helper.

Have a prepayment meter installed

If you are behind with your payments, your energy supplier may insist you have a prepayment meter as an alternative to disconnection.

Prepayment meters are used to buy fuel in advance. The meters can be set to recover fuel debts as well as to pay for the gas or electricity you use.

A prepayment meter is usually the most expensive way to pay for energy costs.

You pay to ‘top up’ a payment card or ‘key’ in a shop and this is used to transfer credit to your gas or electricity meter. You can only use your gas or electricity if you have topped up your meter.

For more detailed information see our advice page prepayment meters.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: In February 2023, the energy company regulator, Ofgem, asked all suppliers to pause forced and remotely switched prepayment installations until they have agreed on a new set of guidelines.

Complain to your supplier if they’re trying to force you onto prepayment. You can find information about complaining to your energy supplier by visiting the Ofgem website.

Problems paying fuel bills

If you have problems with fuel bills or debt you can get free, confidential, face-to-face help from specialist Shelter Cymru debt advisers at several locations in Wales. Click here to find details of the debt advice surgeries nearest to you.

You can also contact the Energy Saving Trust.

If you require further support you may be eligible for the Priority Service Register.

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Did you find this helpful?

This page was last updated on: February 15, 2024

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.