A MAJOR energy supplier has announced a package to wipe debts for over a thousand struggling households.
EDF, with 3.7million customers in the UK, is offering the help through its "Fresh Start" initiative.
The firm is rolling out the package between now and the end of March 2024.
Households who are deemed vulnerable or experiencing financial difficulty will be eligible to have their debts wiped.
This could be someone who has previously applied to EDF's Customer Support Fund or someone eligible for the Warm Home Discount.
Support will also be offered to prepayment meter customers where EDF is concerned they might self-disconnect.
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Self-disconnecting is when customers on prepayment meters don't top up because of lack of funds and the meter cuts out.
Anyone who qualifies for help through the Fresh Start scheme doesn't have to action anything and just had to sit tight and wait for EDF to be in touch.
EDF said the average amount of debt that could be wiped is around £1,250 and customers will be informed when it is has been applied.
Any debt that is wiped will be either credited to customers' accounts or cleared from prepayment meters.
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It comes as EDF calls on the regulator Ofgem and Government to push ahead with plans to consult on a targeted social tariff for poorer households.
It is also calling on the two bodies to create a central database of vulnerable households which could help suppliers offer targeted support.
Philippe Commaret, managing director of customers at EDF, said: "More customers are falling deeper into debt with no real long-term solution in place to help them.
"Left unaddressed, the situation will drive up costs for all households, with other customers forced to pick-up the bill.
"We must make sure the most vulnerable in society are being protected and this includes stopping bills rising further.
"We’re taking action to help those in need, but vulnerable customers need a long-term, sustainable approach to tackle affordability."
What if I'm not with EDF?
If you're not with EDF and have fallen into energy bill debt, you might still be able to get help.
A number of firms offer grants to those who can't keep up with payments, worth up to £1,500.
This includes British Gas, Scottish Power, Octopus Energy and E.ON.
But eligibility for each supplier's scheme varies so it's worth contacting yours to get more details.
Most suppliers have customer service numbers included on their websites.
Meanwhile, you might be able to organise a repayment plan with your supplier.
This means agreeing a certain amount with them which you pay back each month on top of your normal bill.
Plus, if you're on benefits, you might be able to have the money deducted directly from your payments, through what's known as Fuel Direct.
For example, if you're on Universal Credit you'll have 5% deducted from your normal payment to cover the debt.
But the amount can also depend on whether any other deductions for other debts apply.
Plus, you might be able to get help via the Household Support Fund.
The latest round of funding is worth £842million and has been shared between councils in England.
What you are entitled to varies depending on where you live, but you usually receive help if you are on a low income or benefits.
Some households are receiving energy vouchers while others are seeing money transferred directly into their bank accounts.
You should contact your council to see if any help is available to you.
You can find what council area you fall under by using the Government's council locator tool.
Lastly, it's always worth checking if you can get benefits if you're not claiming them already.
They open up a number of other perks too, including cost of living payments and free TV licences.
A number of charities have free benefit calculators that can help you figure out how much you might be eligible for:
- Turn2us benefits calculator
- Policy in Practice better off calculator
- entitledto benefits calculator
You can also join our new Sun Money Facebook group to share stories and tips and engage with the consumer team and other group members.
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