Martin Lewis shares ‘surprising’ first thing to do as family struggles to pay £740 energy bill debt

Martin Lewis in pictures

Martin Lewis has shared tips on what people struggling with energy bill debt should do

Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon

Published: 28/09/2023

- 11:27

Martin Lewis suggested what a man struggling to pay his energy bills should do as he answered questions from members of the public

Martin Lewis has urged a family struggling to pay their energy bill to speak to their energy supplier to see if they can help.

Speaking on The Martin Lewis Podcast, the founder of Money Saving Expert said people may find the advice “surprising”, but the energy company could provide support.

Tim, who has a child under two with another on the way, had contacted the financial journalist on social media asking for tips or advice.

He explained he is an Octopus Energy customer and currently owes £741.58.

Energy bill

Martin Lewis is urging people to contact their energy supplier if they are struggling with energy debt


Tim works Monday to Friday plus occasional weekend overtime, but he was struggling to make ends meet.

He explained: “All bills going out, can’t afford to pay this off as by the time it’s paid, I will owe more.”

Mr Lewis replied: “Let me make this very plain. If you are struggling to pay your energy bill, the first thing to do – and you may find this surprising – is speak to the energy firm and tell them and tell them your situation.

“There are vulnerable customer rules, there are debt collection rules. You should have a good conversation.

“Tell them that you’re very worried about things. Some energy firms have their own grants.

“If that isn’t working, you could go to one of the normal debt charities, because this is a debt like any other, like Citizens Advice or National Debt Line.”

Mr Lewis also suggested people could contact National Energy Action, saying it’s a “brilliant charity” that could provide help.

He added: “I would talk to your energy firm first and if you’re still not happy, talk to one of those charities. They may be able to find you extra money in the system somewhere from an individual grant.”

Mr Lewis added: “Please don’t all rush to them on a speculative thing. They’re there to help the most vulnerable when they’re really in need so if you need them, use them, but they can’t cope with the phone lines being clogged up by everybody.”

Octopus Energy encourages people who are having difficulty paying to contact them “as soon as possible” to discuss how they might be able to help.

Rebecca Dibb-Simkin, Chief Product Officer at Octopus Energy, told GB News: “We’re doing everything we possibly can to help our customers during this difficult time and we’re speaking to over 40,000 of them a day.

"Helping to support them is our utmost priority and customers know we are here to help. If you are struggling with your bills, we encourage you to get in touch with us - either by email at or on the phone at 0808 164 1088.”

Person with energy bill statement and smart meter

The charity Turn2us said people struggling with energy and water bills may be able to get help from a charitable fund


The firm says: “Once you’ve told us you’re having difficulties making payments we can advice how to use your energy more efficiently and may be able to offer solutions…”

These may include a short-term deferment of payment, agreeing a debt repayment plan, agreeing a regular instalment plan for future bills or potentially arranging for payments to be taken directly from a person’s benefits using the Fuel Direct Scheme, if a person is on certain means-tested benefits.

The charity Turn2us has a charitable grants search tool which people can use to see if they’re eligible for forms of support. The help the grants give varies but it could include help with the cost of energy or water bills.

On its website, the charity says: “If you are struggling with energy and water bills, you may be able to get help from a charitable fund, depending on your background, circumstances and needs.”

The Martin Lewis Podcast is available to listen to now on BBC Sounds.

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