coming to terms with rising energy prices Our partners at PayPlan have come up with tips for those struggling during the cost-of-living crisis and have outlined the help available in their latest blog. Seek help when struggling with payments Data from consultancy Cornwall Insight suggests that a typical household is likely to pay £3,358 a year from October, up from £1,971 a year in April – and prices could reach up to £4,266 for the average household in January 2023. Our CEO Rachel Duffey said: “We understand the financial hardship rising gas and electricity bills are placing on our customers and the rest of England, Scotland and Wales. “But it’s crucial to understand that gas and electricity bills are classed as priority bills, which means there can be severe consequences for missing or being late on a payment. “If people don’t pay them, their supplier can collect the debt using a debt collection agency. They can also get a court warrant to enter their homes to fit a pre-payment card meter. “If they’re struggling to pay for energy or think they may get into financial difficulty, it’s important that they contact their supplier as soon as possible. “It’s important to seek help if they’re struggling to meet payments or are at risk of falling into arrears. One of their first points of call should be their supplier, and they should let them know that they’re struggling. They may be able to offer support and inform them about any available grants to pay off a utility bill or negotiate an affordable payment plan.” Support is available OFGEM rules mean suppliers must offer people a payment plan that they can afford, and they can ask for “emergency credit” if they use a pre-paid meter they can’t afford to top up. Most suppliers have also signed up to fresh commitments drawn up with OFGEM and the industry body Energy UK to support consumers this winter. The Government has also announced an Energy Bills Support Scheme worth £400 across six payments to help support residents across England, Scotland and Wales this winter. You can find out more about the Energy Bills Support Scheme here. Building a budget and how to do this So, what can people do now? What is the next step? Building a budget should always be the first step. There are various templates and products available to help, but here are the key things that should be included: Household income Regular bills (including essential expenditure like council tax, mortgage/rent, utilities) Food and toiletries costs Credit card / buy now pay later payments Transport costs We have a handy guide available on our website to help people work this out. Energy saving tips and how to reduce costs Unfortunately, there isn’t a ‘quick fix’ to reduce energy bills, but there are several things that can be done to help make smaller savings every month, which will help people save money over the long term. Switch off standby Turn off lights Drop the temperature when washing Avoid the tumble dryer Spend less time in the shower Swap your bath for a shower Be savvy in the kitchen Make your taps more efficient Fill your dishwasher We’re here to help With bills increasing, along with food prices and fuel costs rising too, it’s understandable many people are wondering how they’re going to make ends meet. If you are struggling with debt repayments or need help with working out and managing their budget, we’re here to help.