Energy Suppliers Extra Support during COVID-19

Posted on: 20 Mar 2020

By Catherine

This webpage was last edited 24/11/2020.

OFGEM and energy suppliers released an announcement on 19th March 2020 pledging to support energy customers vulnerable because of COVID-19, self-isolating or experiencing financial hardship. This information is for residents who cannot access their online account. Anyone who can, should do so and follow the procedures outlined there.


I need help from my supplier, what do I do?
If you are in financial hardship due to lack of income, or are self-isolating with no-one available to go and top up for you, call your supplier now.

What will they do?
Your supplier will listen to your circumstances so they can find the best way to help you.

I can’t top up my pre-payment meter– what can they really do to help me?
Suppliers may:

  • Increase the level of emergency credit
  • Send a pre-loaded card or key to you in the post
  • Send an engineer out to add credit to your meter
  • Convert smart pre-payment meters to credit meters remotely to stop you disconnecting

I’m on a credit meter and can’t pay my direct debit or bill, what can I do?
Call your supplier or log in to your online account to let them know. Tell them you need to cancel your direct debit / regular payment for the time being due to financial hardship.

Will I be penalised?
British Gas told us that any default as a result of hardship from COVID-19 will not be reported to credit reference agencies and so will not impact your credit score. They also assured us that debts won’t be chased. You should confirm these things with your own supplier too.

How will I pay it back?
Most credit offered is discretionary and needs to be paid back in time, but suppliers are aware that this will be difficult and are offering a range of timescales and payment terms. Ask when repayment arrangements will need to be made when you call.

When is the right time to call my supplier?
If you are on pre-payment meters, do not wait for the meter to run out of credit completely before contacting the supplier. Even though call wait times may be high, it is important that you stay on the line in order to receive help early enough to prevent disconnection.

Individual Supplier Information

British Gas - 0330 100 0303

Smart meter customers

  • Staff will confirm if the meter is communicating with British Gas,
  • If yes - discretionary credit of 2 weeks can be sent to the meter,
  • If no - an engineer will be sent out.

Conventional meters

  • If on supply, with credit to last a few days - a pre-loaded card will be sent with 2 weeks of discretionary credit.
  • If off supply - an engineer will be sent out to provide:
    For electric - 2 weeks discretionary credit will be added to the meter,
    For gas - £5 added to the meter and then a pre-loaded card separately.
  • Additional information can be found here:

Bulb - 0300 33 0635

  • Have already sent out communications to all pre-payment customers.
  • Can issue pre-loaded cards via post but it will take 2 to 3 days, so they advise customers to be proactive and not leave it to the last minute.
  • Can switch smart pre-payment meters to credit meters for those on the Priority Services Register (PSR) without the need for a credit check.
  • Additional information can be found here:

EDF - 0333 200 5110 for pre-payment / 0203 995 2602 for smart pre-payment

  • Smart meters can be converted to credit meters if necessary during the crisis.
  • Can send a pre-loaded key / card ranging in value between £50 -£100. This will need to be paid back but payment will be deferred for 3 - 4 months presently (subject to review) and call centre staff can set up payment at as little as £1 a week. They have relaxed payment terms in light of COVID-19.
  • Additional information can be found here:

E-ON - 0345 303 3040

  • Smart pre-payment meters still communicating with E-ON can be changed to credit mode.
  • Emergency credit has been increased on all meters from £5 to £50. This will need to be paid back but call centre staff can use their discretion on the payment amount and period.
  • Additional information can be found here:

Npower - 0800 073 3000

  • Has help available for pre-payment customers who cannot leave the home to top-up. Details are not outlined but customers should contact the company as soon as possible.
  • Payment arrangements can be made for those on credit meters struggling to pay due to a drop in income. These are discussed on a case by case basis.
  • Additional information can be found here:

Ovo (Boost for pre-payment) - 0330 303 5063

SSE - 0345 072 9495

  • If you don't have any funds to top up your meter, SSE can offer temporary credit or reduce any payments you're making through your meter so your credit lasts longer. You can call Monday to Friday: 8am-8pm; Saturdays, 9am-6pm; Sundays, 9am-5pm. A temporary credit amount will be set based on usage and the amount of time estimated until the end of isolation or your next pay day.
  • For conventional meters off supply, an engineer will knock on the door and post a pre-loaded card / key but won't enter the property. This will be the same day or (if alerted after 4pm) the next day.
  • Credit customers struggling to meet bills should call so that SSE can amend payments to support you.
  • Additional information can be found here:

Scottish Power -0800 027 0072

Utilitia - 0345 207 2000

Useful Links

The guide below offers some useful energy-saving tips and advice during COVID-19 to help households reduce their consumption and become more energy-efficient.

21 Useful Tips and Advice to Save on Energy Bills During Coronavirus

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