Millions of households set for energy bill break due to coronavirus crisis – Telegraph.co.uk

Millions of households could be given a break from energy bills as a growing number of companies have sent employees home amid the coronavirus crisis, The Telegraph can reveal.

EDF Energy, which has five million customers and is one of the biggest utility firms in the country, said it would consider offering delayed payments to anyone who is affected by the outbreak.

The news comes after the Government warned that as many as a fifth of employees could be off work at the same time, disrupting regular travel plans and increasing power use.

Consumer experts hit out at rail firms for only offering partial refunds to those who are told to work from home as offices across the country sit empty.

High street banks have already offered mortgage repayment holidays to affected customers as the financial toll of the crisis worsens.

The Telegraph understands that energy bosses are in regular communication with the Government and regulators to determine how best to support customers who may run into financial difficulty.

A spokesman for EDF said: “We recognise that over the coming weeks Covid-19 may have an impact on our customers, and we are prepared to offer these customers additional support and flexibility.

“Each case would be looked at on an individual basis, but additional support we could offer may include repayments made over a longer period of time, delay payment for a short period or offer alternative payment arrangements.”

Government advice is that anyone with persistent coronavirus symptoms should remain isolated for seven days.

Those who usually travel to work using a rail season ticket could find themselves out of pocket because of rules blasted as “completely unfair” by a consumer group.

Martyn James, from consumer complaints service Resolver, said the rules could mean many commuters lose out simply for following their company’s advice.

Customers can ask for money back, but they will not receive the full unused value of their and will have to pay an administration fee.

Those who have used the majority of their ticket would not be entitled to a refund.

Mr James said the period used to calculate the refund is arbitrary and may not reflect price variations over the year.

A weekly ticket from Brighton to London costs around £105 while a day return ticket can cost £44.

That means someone returning their ticket after four days of use would receive nothing back.

Customers are also charged an administration fee of up to £10.

Commuters can temporarily “suspend” their season ticket if they are ill. They will be refunded for the time for which they were unable to use it.

To receive their money back customers must supply a medical certificate.

Transport for London, which runs the London Underground, said it is waiving its £5 administration fee for those who need to self-isolate.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, a trade body, said rail firms understand these are “exceptional times” and that travellers should check their entitlement with National Rail Enquiries.

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