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Coronavirus: What happens with energy bills?

  • 18 March 2020
  • 14 replies
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Like many people on here, I am self-employed. I now have no work and no income at all. I heard that the government were considering asking energy companies not to charge their customers for the next few months. Does anyone know if this is happening with OVO?

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Best answer by Tim_OVO 20 March 2020, 09:27

Hi @skier @flo @Transparent @Paschale Straiton 

 

Thanks for posting in this topic, we know that these are worrying times for all of us. We’ve just posted an FAQ page to support members with any COVID queries or concerns. Please have a read of this here

 

To reach out to us for support or advice on paying for your energy, get us on:


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Email: hello@ovoenergy.com

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That’s a very good point, @skier I expect there are many customers who’d like an answer to this one.

The most obvious group who I anticipate will be be first to receive assistance are those on pre-payment meters. Hopefully there will be some UK-wide guidelines issued by Ofgem which OVO will follow.

@Tim_OVO have you got any news on this issue?

And if not, should us Forum members start putting forward some suggestions?

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May I just follow up on my own response?…

I’ve seen today’s press conference from No.10. One snippet of information for the self-employed is that there is to be a fast-track system to obtain state benefits.

Secondly, as a company working in a key sector, OVO themselves will be eligible for government support to overcome cash-flow problems. So they will have no reason why they should apply the usual range of sanctions to those who fall behind with payments.

Common sense prevails here. At the moment it’s very unlikely that any court would be prepared to even hear a case for energy payment arrears, let alone permit that debt to be pursued by bailiffs. There might be exceptions for customers who had already exhibited a significant shortfall in payments prior to Covid-19, but courts themselves are affected and won’t be wasting time on borderline cases.

There are already well-defined criteria for what are regarded as the essentials of life. So self-employed workers shouldn’t be required to sell tools or trade vehicles to meet energy-bills for example.

As matters stand, any energy bill shortfalls will remain as a debt which must be paid at some future date. But if these become significant, the government may yet step in and alleviate the problems, perhaps by covering interest payments for example.

Please remember that it is not possible to switch suppliers whilst an energy debt remains unpaid.

Customers should equally beware of running out at the end of contract and defaulting to the “standard variable tariff” because this costs more per unit.

Depending on how long the Covid-19 emergency period lasts, Ofgem could step in and insist that Energy Suppliers offer a lower-rate tariff for those who need just a few months to pay off an accumulated debt.

In addition to @skier’s post, but quite on the contrary.

My partner and I work for the NHS and although we are not frontline medical/clinical staff, we provide technical support to some clinical critical systems. We have been asked to work from home to ensure that we do not risk contracting the virus and to ensure we are still able to provide the required support.  Given that we are both having to using computers and lots of electronic equipment at home, inevitably our utility bill is going to rocket! Any idea on where we might stand with this?

We do not have a pre-pay metre and are very fortunate that we are in full time permanent employment, but of course this will effect us and it would be helpful to understand what the government and utility companies are agreeing.

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Well firstly @flo we’re very pleased to hear from you and reassured that the NHS is functional and you’re both working from home!

Here’s the scene in front of me as I “work” from home replying to you :slight_smile:

 

The OVO Forum is mainly customers, like myself. I don’t work for OVO despite the logo on the coffee mug in the photo.

But it’s possible that one of the Moderators like @Nancy_OVO or @Tim_OVO might be able to find if there’s any official news from within the energy industry.

 

May I put your mind at rest concerning the use of electronic equipment at home. I have several computers running, and occasionally a laser printer. As a self-builder, I always work from home.

But the power consumption of my electronic devices is lower than 1% of my energy bill.

The much bigger issue is home heating which accounts for half my usage. Then there’s the two big electricity devices ~ the kettle and the microwave. They may only be on for short periods of time, but at 3kW and 800watts, they use more than twice as much electricity in a year than all my computer-related stuff.

 

I doubt that we’re soon going to see any announcements from HMG about relief for energy bills run up by home workers.

It’s much more likely to arise as an issue “in arrears” as people contact their MPs in several months time, presenting them with bills showing the costs they incurred.

It could easily be remedied via a one-off tax reduction for essential workers who stayed working from home. And that could be applied for the tax-year ending April 2021.

 

In the meantime, if there are specific questions about energy usage (and savings) which we might be able to help with, then please do ask them here.

 

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And here’s the official UK Government advice we’ve been waiting for from the Dept of Business, Energy, Innovation and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Note that there are particular provisions for customers with pre-payment meters who can’t get out to buy credit on their cards. @Ed_OVO can we ensure this is amplified on the Boost Forum please?

Those with Smart Meters fitted are in a better position. Their meters can be remotely credited by an Energy Supplier.

So at last we are now seeing a customer-oriented benefit from Smart Meters! It’s a pity it took Covid-19 to get us here.

Once the virus has abated I’d like to see this function being made available to those organising Food-banks. They then have the option to credit a Smart Meter with enough energy to actually cook the food which gets given out.

Thanks for the information about smart meters and tips on lowering power consumption. 

I’m a self employed street theatre performer, linked to the events industry and my boyfriend has just started a street food business so we’re both out business, for the next 6 months or more most likely.  So like many, many others with no financial security, we’re likely to be in a tricky situation regarding bills pretty soon.

It would be fantastic @Nancy_OVO and @Ed_OVO if OVO can keep their customers informed of government advice and the company’s plans through a weekly or fortnightly newsletter - there will be plenty of customers who might be able to deal with emails but find it hard to navigate the forum - I’m thinking of my elderly parents for one. 

Many thanks

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Hi @Paschale Straiton . I’ve picked up the important points in your middle paragraph and started a new Topic on Isolated at home. There’s some positive ideas there to get us started, so please respond :relaxed:

That means we can keep this Topic advice about energy bills and usage… of which I’m sure there will be much more to say.

I hope that’s ok?

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Hi @skier @flo @Transparent @Paschale Straiton 

 

Thanks for posting in this topic, we know that these are worrying times for all of us. We’ve just posted an FAQ page to support members with any COVID queries or concerns. Please have a read of this here

 

To reach out to us for support or advice on paying for your energy, get us on:


Facebook

Twitter

Email: hello@ovoenergy.com

Yes of course @Transparent and thanks for starting the new Topic. And thanks @Tim_OVO for the reply.

@Tim_OVO This  doesn’t answer my question. I will not be able to pay my bills as I have no income. What is OVO doing to help people with this?

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Whilst I too await the official OVO response to this @skier...

I believe the PM has announced a fast track registration for those who are now unemployed to receive state benefits. Thus you will have some income towards energy bills.

There may yet also be schemes to offer such people temporary employment in one of the fields where we now need more workers. But there has been no such announcement to date.

It all rather depends what your skill-set is.

Have a look at the other Topic about Isolated at home where we can discuss such strategies.

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@Tim_OVO This  doesn’t answer my question. I will not be able to pay my bills as I have no income. What is OVO doing to help people with this?

 

We are here to help - our FAQ page offers support and advice for members in this situation @skier 

 

Go to this section:

 

I am freelancer and working from home. who knows the solutions to save the money on the energybill

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Erm… @delongtrevor Your Forum Profile says you live in the USA.

I think you would be best asking this question on a US-based web-site where there are others who know the Building Code and materials available.

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