How to switch energy suppliers even if you’re in debt

Shopping around for your gas and electricity supplier can cut your utility bills by around £300 a year and you don't have to be in a credit with your current supplier to consider switching energy suppliers. In fact, it could help make it easier to repay what you owe.

Repaying a debt and switching

The options if you are in debt:

• If you've been in debt to your supplier for less than 28 days you can still switch. Any owed amounts will be added to your final bill from your old supplier.
• If you've been in debt to your supplier for over 28 days, you'll need to repay the debt first.
• If it's your supplier's fault you're in debt, they can't stop you from switching.

If you're in debt and have a prepayment meter

The options if you are in debt and a prepayment customer:

• As long as you owe less than £500 for gas and £500 for electricity, you can switch to a new supplier if you are paying off an energy debt through a prepayment meter.
• You are entitled to do so through the 'Debt Assignment Protocol'. This would mean your new supplier takes on the debt and you repay them instead, based on the new terms of your agreement with them.
• Prepayment tariffs are usually more expensive, so you may want to ask about the different options available to you, including if you can change to a standard meter. Most suppliers offer this for free, though some may charge.

If you are thinking about switching your energy supplier and don't know where to start, our advisors will be happy to help you. Please call 01259 220 000. We also offer a free and impartial online switching service. On average our customers save £322.70*.

*20% of all users over the last 60 days (17 Jun - 15 Aug)

Auto Enrolment: what you need to know

MM20553 Guest Blogger_Malcolm Goodwin Aviva

Here’s our partner Aviva with some guidance on what to consider when setting up a workplace pension for auto-enrolment.

If you’re due to stage for auto-enrolment this year, you’re not alone. The Pensions Regulator estimates that over 500,000 small and medium-sized companies (SME) will auto-enrol their staff into a workplace pension in 2017.

Any small employer should think about the following things which are key to any business:

  • Retaining your best people: A workplace pension is a very valuable benefit. That can be a really powerful incentive to stay with a company.
  • Attracting talent: A workplace pension that offers a generous employer contribution could be the difference when a candidate receives two job offers at the same time.
  • Being a paternalistic employer: Providing a workplace pension offers staff a chance to plan for their retirement.
  • Allowing staff to retire at the right time: There is no default retirement age anymore so people can just go on working indefinitely. Aviva’s own research found that a third of workers over 50 plan to retire later than they had hoped and on average work for 8 years longer.
  • AE is a legal requirement: All businesses must have a workplace pension. It’s the law now and The Pensions Regulator has the power to fine companies who don’t get their pension set up in time.

Choosing your workplace pension

Pensions aren’t ‘one size fits all’ and the nature of a business, the number and demographics of its employees, payroll set up and its future growth plans all need to be considered when looking for a pension provider.

AE applies to ALL employers, so even if you only have one member of staff, you still need to set up a workplace pension for them.  Many providers will now let you apply for a workplace pension online using streamlined processes that will give you an idea of how much a scheme will cost in just a few minutes.

Contribution rates are going to rise

Currently the minimum contribution rates for an AE pension are 1% of salary from the employer and 1% of salary from the employee (including tax relief).

From April 2018 that will rise to 5% in total, with a minimum of 2% coming from the employer.  Then from April 2019, this will rise to 8%, with a minimum of 3% coming from the employer. These are the minimums though and employers are free to pay in more if they wish.

Embrace auto-enrolment

A workplace pension is now the law, so businesses need to make it work. Putting money away for retirement is not just sensible, but is now essential. The full state pension is currently around £150 a week. If that is your only income from the age of 67, it’s not a huge amount of money to buy food, pay bills and enjoy a decent standard of living.

Find out more about auto-enrolment 

Got any questions? You’ll probably find the answers here.

 

We’ve teamed up with Aviva to offer you a discount on their workplace pension scheme. Aviva’s scheme is compatible with all types of payroll software, and can be managed online.

Find out more.

 

Aviva Life Services UK Limited. Registered in England, No. 2403746. Aviva, Wellington Row, York, YO90 1WR. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Reference Number 145452.

 

 

 

 

Press release: Government launches proposals to better protect holidaymakers

Enhanced regulations will better protect an extra 10 million UK package holidays booked online, under proposals outlined today (14 August 2017) by Consumer Minister Margot James.

The Consultation on the Package Travel Regulations sets out the government’s proposals for the introduction of new consumer rights around package holidays.

Proposals outlined today include:

  • an extension to current protections to cover the millions of UK holidaymakers who buy package holidays online
  • a requirement for better information to be provided to travellers at the point of booking, making it clear what their rights to refund are
  • ensuring the business that puts the package together is responsible for the entire holiday – even if some elements will be fulfilled by third parties

According to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), changes to how we book travel – such as using online booking sites to build personalised holidays – has created a gap in consumer rights, with 50% of holiday arrangements not currently financially protected if a company ceases trading. Changes will provide clearer and stronger protections for holidaymakers, ensuring people who book holidays online enjoy the same rights as those who book with a traditional travel agent.

Consumer Minister Margot James said:

While consumer laws protect millions of holidaymakers from the fallout if a travel company goes into administration, the way we book holidays has changed significantly in recent years and it is important that regulations are updated to reflect this.

On average UK households put aside £100 every month for their holidays. The proposals outlined in this consultation will ensure that an extra 22% of holidays can be booked online with holidaymakers safe in the knowledge that they will get their hard-earned money back if something does go wrong.

Government is encouraging travel agents, booking sites, trade associations and consumer groups to respond to the consultation, which runs for 6 weeks. The European Package Travel Directive comes into force in July 2018.

Open consultation: Updating consumer protection in the package travel sector

The 1992 Package Travel Regulations provide protection to consumers who buy package holidays. While these Regulations have effectively protected consumers in the market for many years, the sector has changed significantly since they were introduced. Technical innovation and in particular the growth of the internet and mobile technologies, have opened up new ways of buying and selling holidays.

This consultation sets out our proposals for updating our laws to align with the 2015 Package Travel Directive. The changes we are proposing will extend protection beyond traditional package holidays to give clear protection to UK travellers who book other forms of combined travel.