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Repayments below Fuel Direct rates
If your income is low, or roughly equivalent to means-tested benefit levels (eg, you get housing benefit or council tax reduction), argue that you should not repay your debt at a higher rate than the Fuel Direct rates.
There are many situations where a supplier should accept less than this level of repayment, particularly if your income is very low – eg, you may not be entitled to benefits because you work, but you have to pay childcare or mortgage expenses which are not taken into consideration; or your benefit is sanctioned; or you have multiple other priority debts.
Suppliers are primarily concerned with ensuring that you pay for your current consumption as the first priority, and should accept payments of arrears over extended periods of time at rates which you can afford to sustain and are in line with your ability to pay,1Condition 27.8 SLC even if this is very low. If you have multiple debts, your suppliers should be persuaded to treat fuel debts in the same way as other priority debts. If you cannot afford the rate of repayment sought, ask to pay at a lower rate. Provide your supplier with information about your income, necessary outgoings and other debts by sending a detailed financial statement (see here). If the supplier refuses to accept lower payments, contact Citizens Advice consumer service for advice.
If a supplier formally refuses a particular repayment rate but then subsequently accepts regular repayments from you at that rate, it is arguable that an agreement has been reached and agreed by virtue of the conduct of both parties. Similarly, if a supplier has promised not to take enforcement action or pursue a certain sum and you then act in reliance on that promise, it is arguable that the supplier cannot then renege on the promise. For example, if a supplier tells you that it is prepared to reduce part of a debt and you then repay the remainder, it should not be open to the supplier to take action regarding the unpaid balance at a later date. The rule on estoppel applies (see here).
1     Condition 27.8 SLC »