Energy industry support for vulnerable customers

during the Covid-19 outbreak

The government’s emergency package with energy suppliers

On 19th March 2020 the government agreed new emergency measures with the energy industry to protect the domestic energy supply vulnerable customers during the disruption caused by COVID-19.

  • The measures include nominating a third party for credit top ups, having a discretionary fund added to their credit, or being sent a pre-loaded top up card so that their supply is not interrupted.
  • Any energy customer in financial distress will also be supported by their supplier, which could include debt repayments and bill payments being reassessed, reduced or paused where necessary, while disconnection of credit meters will be completely suspended.

Ofgem guidance

Customers with prepayment meters who are self-isolating or unable to leave their home can now speak to their supplier on the options. This may include:

  • someone being sent to top up your prepayment card or token
  • having funds added to your meter credit
  • having a preloaded gas or electricity card sent to you in the post.

No credit meters will be disconnected during the outbreak.

Financial support for people struggling with debt

The British Gas Energy Trust is an independent charity we set up to offer advice, assistance and grants to people who are struggling to pay their bills.

National Debtline: 0808 808 4000 an independent charity, dedicated to providing free debt advice by phone and online to people across the UK.

Priority Services Register

Most energy suppliers as well as Electricity North West offer certain free services to people who need extra help. These can include password protection and identity card scheme etc. Please contact individual companies for details on their specific package.

Individual Suppliers’ Offer

British Gas

Tel: 0330 100 0303 (Only call us if you have an emergency or if you’re a prepay customer)


Top ups for customers with a classic prepayment meter

  • If you’re unable to top-up yourself ask a trusted person to top-up for you.
  • If you can top up then credit your meter with a bit more than you usually would.

Preloaded Smartcards and keys for those that we already know are medically vulnerable.

  • If we already know that you are medically vulnerable, we’ll send you your preloaded Smartcard or key to help you through this outbreak by post in the coming days. You do not need to contact us.

Top ups for customers with a smart prepayment meter

  • If you have a smart meter, you can top up online or on our app. You can also top up over the phone using our automated payment service on 0333 202 9612


Tel: 0345 052 0000

Top ups for customers with a classic prepayment meter

  • Extended emergency credit levels for gas customers from £5 to £50.
  • Working on similar provision for electricity customers. 
  • This amount will have to be repaid in future.
  • To activate the extended emergency credit, customers will need to visit their local top up store up to three times in advance. You’ll need to take your card with you as usual and make a minimum top up of £1. 

Top ups for customers with a smart prepayment meter

  • Our smart prepayment meter customers can top up their energy remotely online, via our app or, if necessary, by calling in.
  • Our smart prepayment meter customers already have an emergency credit of £15 per fuel if they’re dual fuel customers (£20 if they are electricity-only customers). It’s important to remember that any credit we issue will need to be repaid.


Tel:0330 333 7442

  • Friendly Credit hours, meaning you won’t lose supply between 2pm and 10am on weekdays and over the whole weekend – even if you’ve run out of credit.
  • £15 Emergency Credit.
  • Power Up feature allows you apply for a top-up when you’re out of credit. The amount is set to a maximum of £20 for electricity and £10 for gas.  Learn more at
  • If you’re in a cash crisis situation and urgently need money for food or other essentials, visit the StepChange website for advice and support.

EDF Energy

Tel:  0333 200 5110


Top ups for customers with a classic prepayment meter

  • Ask a friend/family member to top-up your key or card for you, If this is not possible, please call.
  • We also operate a friendly, non-disconnection policy on most meters. So if you run out of credit after 6pm your electricity will not go off until 9am the next day. This operates from 6pm to 9am Monday to Friday, 6pm on Saturday and any time on a Sunday or Bank Holiday, until 9am the next day.
  • If you are seriously affected by the crisis we may be able to offer additional help, such as a payment plan. This will be judged on a case-by-case basis, please call us.
  • ‘Hardship fund’ is available for prepayment customers who are struggling to top up. Call above number.  

Top ups for customers with a smart prepayment meter

BULB Energy

Tel: 0300 30 30 635 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm).


Top ups for customers with a classic prepayment meter

  • If you’re not able to top up during a period of self-isolation, we’ll work to keep your energy on.
  • In some cases, we’ll be able to arrange for you to top-up remotely and post a preloaded card or key.

Scottish Power

Tel: 0800 027 0072


Top ups for customers with a classic prepayment meter

  • Ask a friend, neighbour or family member who can top up for you.  We’d encourage you to ask them to top up with a little more credit than normal. This will help you manage your supply even if you can’t make it to a top up outlet as regularly as you would normally.
  • If you have no one to help and you have gone off supply, please call us.
  • We would also recommend contacting the National Debt Line on 0808 808 4000. They’ll be able to offer support on energy debt and offer wider financial advice. 

Top ups for customers with a smart prepayment meter

  • If a credit has not gone through then enter your Unique Transaction Reference Number (UTRN) manually into your meter. This can be found on your outlet receipt or the email you will have received after topping up via the app.
  • The maximum amount your smart gas and electricity meters can hold is £500.


Tel: 0345 072 9495 


  • We encourage you to keep at least 14 days’ worth of credit on your meter in case you need to self-isolate. If you’re not able to do this, please ask family members or friends if they can help you.
  • If you’re unable to ask friends and family, please call us and we’ll help by taking payment over the phone and arranging for an engineer to deliver your credit on a key or card.
  • If you don’t have any funds to top up your meter, we can offer you a temporary credit or reduce any payments you’re making through your meter so your credit lasts longer. Please call us.
  • Most meters have either an emergency credit or friendly credit facility if you’re temporarily unable to buy credit.

Top ups for customers with a smart prepayment meter

  • If you have a smart meter, you can top up online or call us to make a payment and we’ll apply the credit to your meter.
  •  Smart prepayment meter customers can also have temporary credit sent directly to your meter.


(Pay-As-You-Go only company)

Tel: 0117 332 3728 or 0330 102 7517


Credit extensions during the outbreak

  • This is an emergency credit to see you through these difficult times. If you are not able to pay for your energy, please call us and we’ll work through the options with you. If you do get a credit extension, this money will need to be repaid at a future date.  
  • If you can’t repay your debt, then let us know so that we can work out a manageable plan for you.

Top ups for customers with a classic prepayment meter

  • Try and keep enough credit on your meter to last 2 weeks.
    Ask your neighbours, friends, and family to top up for you at a PayPoint.
  • If you don’t have anyone who can help you top up, please just give us a call

Top ups for customers with a smart prepayment meter

  • If you’re a Smart PAYG+ customer, you can download our app and also log into your online account to top up.
  • We may be able to top up your smart meter remotely for you. Just call us.
  • We offer up to £30 credit in our app.
  • If you can’t log in or access your account, you should have a black Energy Payment Card, which you can use to make a top up at a PayPoint instead. We recommend you top up more than usual, if you’re able to.



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