In recent days a number of energy suppliers have collapsed and Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, has said government ministers are braced for “more failures.”
However, there are measures in place to protect consumer rights if an energy supplier goes out of business.
Cllr Mike Bell, Deputy Leader of North Somerset Council and executive member with responsibility for housing, said: “The first thing to be aware of if your supplier goes bust is that you’ll still have a gas and electricity supply. You won’t need to switch tariff or supplier. The energy regulator, Ofgem, will move your account to a new supplier. This usually takes a few days, but it could take a little longer.
“Once you’ve been switched over your new supplier will contact you to advise what’s happening with your new account. If you’re in credit your money is protected and you’ll be paid back. If you were in debt to the old supplier, you'll have to pay the money back to your new supplier. If you pay by direct debit, you can cancel it if you want to, but there is no need to cancel it right away. The advice is to wait until your new account is set up before you cancel it.
“Unfortunately this situation might prompt scammers to try and take advantage of people. There’s no evidence of this at the moment but please do remember to be on your guard against scam messages and seek advice from Citizens Advice in the first instance.”
People are also advised to take a meter reading and photograph their meters if possible, log into their online account if applicable to check their balance and screenshot their account, and download any bills and keep any old bills they have, as these could be useful to prove payment history, credit or debit amounts.
It was also announced earlier this month that the energy price cap, the maximum price suppliers can charge customers on a standard tariff or a prepayment meter, will increase from October 1.
Cllr Bell added: “On top of issues with suppliers, the energy price cap means households will be facing increased energy bills this winter. I know this is a worrying time for some families and I’m really keen to make sure people are aware of the support that’s available.
“For example. if you’re on a low income or pension credit you may be entitled to the Warm Home Discount Scheme, a one-off discount on your energy bill. There’s also the Cold Weather Payment and the Winter Fuel Payment which can help during the colder months.
“And registration is open until the end of September for Solar Together West of England, a scheme where residents can get cheaper deals to install solar panels and set up a battery storage system at their home. Solar energy is an efficient energy and this scheme gives people the chance to reduce their carbon emissions and save on energy bills.”
For more information about funding and support to heat a home, and energy efficiency advice, go to www.n-somerset.gov.uk/heatyourhome. There is more information about energy suppliers on the Ofgem, Citizen’s Advice and Centre for Sustainable Energy websites.