Energy Firms Turn to Courts Amid Rising Unpaid Bills

The rapid and extreme rise in energy bills have forced many families to financial ruin. The number of people being taken to court has dramatically increased, according to Citizens Advice. 

Energy Bill Rises Pushing Families to Breaking Point

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According to government research, energy bills in the UK have risen by 59% compared to their winter 21/22 levels. Alongside the general cost of living increase, this has been too much for some families.

Energy Companies Resorting to Legal Action

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According to the Citizens Advice, the energy companies are resorting to court more frequently than ever to retrieve unpaid bills from customers.

Some Families Facing Financial Ruin

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The charity said that the bills, plus associated court costs, can have dire consequences for some families, seeing them suffer from financial ruin for years.

Some Quarters Are Blaming Ofgem For Debt Rises

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When Ofgem, the energy regulator introduced restrictions on who and where prepayment meters could be installed, it led to many people accruing energy debts they couldn’t repay. 

Size of Energy Debts Surpasses £3bn

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According to Citizens Advice, they have advised 349 families around energy debts in 2023, up from 179 in 2022. The total figure owed to energy companies has now reached £3.1bn, and it is climbing daily.

County Court Judgements Highest Since 2019

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Records show that the level of CCJ’s is the highest since 2019, and many of these are issued as a result of energy debts. As the cost of living put pressure on family finances in all directions, it’s unlikely to be a falling number any time soon.

Citizens Advice Explains What’s Happening

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Madison Stefanuik from Citizens Advice, said: “Since rules were tightened on prepayment meters, we’ve noticed some energy suppliers are increasingly using CCJs and sending in bailiffs to force customers to pay their debts.”

Increases in Price Across the Board Biting

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Stefanuik went on to say:  “People are coming to us about this problem more and more often. It’s usually people who are struggling to make ends meet, often trying to prioritize rent and council tax. As a result, they’ve fallen behind on energy bills and have been hit with a CCJ.”

Energy Companies Scoring PR Own Goals

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There will be little sympathy for the energy companies, who have all posted record profits on the back of energy price hikes. They’ve protected their margins at all costs, forcing customers to pay huge bills.

Unfair Charges Causing Trouble 

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A man speaking to the Guardian newspaper said that he sought help after receiving a CCJ for an unpaid energy bill. He had even provided his supplier with evidence that he had been overcharged.

Smart Meters Causing Further Issues

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The problems have been compounded by the recent news that millions of smart meters that have been installed in homes across the UK are reporting false numbers, leading to many people being overcharged – some of whom probably don’t even realize. 

Customers Asking Providers to Shoulder Some of the Burden

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Commentators are frequently asking why can’t the energy companies take some of the hit, and maybe sacrifice some of their record profits so families aren’t forced to choose between heating or eating. 

Energy Industry Has Its Say

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Daniel Portis from Energy UK said: “Given the pressures facing households, suppliers have pledged to go further than ever before in helping customers through tens of millions of pounds of discretionary support and voluntary debt commitments”

Ofgem Aware of the Issue

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A spokesperson for Ofgem said “many people have been struggling to pay their energy bills” which could become “an enduring problem”. They also said they’ve set up a consultation on energy affordability to establish “what’s working, what is not and where are the gaps”.

Personal Finances Not An Infinite Resource

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Whilst there’s no single cause of the problem, it’s unreasonable for energy companies to expect people to celebrate their record profits, which are generated on the back of hitting already-stretched customers even further. 

Price Caps Will Help

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The good news is energy bills will fall in the short-medium term, as the energy price cap put in place by Ofgem fell by £238 on Monday. This will help most households reduce energy costs.

Summer is Coming

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We’re heading into the warmer months now, so domestic heating is likely to be used less. This reduction in energy usage, plus the lowering of the price cap should give some breathing space to customers struggling with energy costs. 

Don’t Suffer – Speak Early

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If you are struggling to keep up with your energy bills, don’t wait before contacting your energy provider. They have an obligation to help, so don’t wait until the problem is too big. You will avoid potential a CCJ and financial ruin.

The post Energy Firms Turn to Courts Amid Rising Unpaid Bills first appeared on Now.

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