Many are struggling with the cost of energy and other goods and services with the dramatic increases we have seen over the last few months.
The lead up to Christmas can be a daunting prospect, especially when we are facing issues with our finances. You are not alone in your situation, especially this year.
It is, however, important to remember that avoiding paying bills can have consequences further down the line.
Missing council tax payments can lead to action from the local authority.
Usually, two missed payments in the current year can lead to demand for payment, and potential court action if it remains unpaid. There are further consequences for non-payment, including potential for a decree to be issued, and even wage or bank arrestment. All these actions can have a detrimental impact on your credit score.
It is always a good idea to deal with debts – and the potential of falling behind with priority bills, like council tax as a matter of urgency.
Additionally, avoiding paying energy bills can have negative consequences, with the possibility of your energy supplier switching you to a prepayment meter and forcing you to pay for energy in advance.
With standard meters, your supplier would have to go through a legal process to arrange the switch, with the possibility of further debt being added to what you already owe.
If you have a smart meter, there is the possibility that your supplier could switch you to prepayment mode remotely. Prepayment meters are more expensive generally, as they usually charge a higher unit rate and standing charge.
Additionally, with these meters, there is always a chance that your energy supply could be disconnected when credit runs out.
What sources of support are available?
There are sources of support out there that can assist us when we are having money issues or struggling with energy costs.
Very often, by having open and honest conversations about our current position with organisations who have dealt with similar situations before can help.
energyadvice.scot provide free, practical advice and information on energy-related matters to the citizens of Scotland and can answer energy-related enquiries. Our specialist advisers are available on 0808 196 8660 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm).
Advice Direct Scotland also have other services that may be able to help.
The Scottish Government’s Home Heating Support Fund seeks to provide financial relief to energy consumers who are experiencing significant financial hardship and strives to provide this support to households regardless of the fuel or payment method used.
This includes prepayment customers who are struggling with debt and rationing energy to get by. You can find out more about the fund by visiting the website at www.homeheatingadvice.scot.
moneyadvice.scot provide free information and support on a wide-range of debt-related issues. Our specialist debt advisers can work with you to assess your current situation, look at your income and expenditure and decide what to do next. You can call the team on 0808 196 2316 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm).
Advice Direct Scotland are running our ‘Countdown to Christmas’ campaign throughout the festive season. This will focus on the things we can do to save money this festive season.
For more information, visit www.advicedirect.scot/christmas22.