If bad weather means your electricity, gas or water is cut off, what can you do and can you get compensation? The amount of power cut compensation you can get, and whether you have to claim, depends on why the power cut happened.
Power cut compensation
You may be able to claim compensation if your electricity or gas supply is cut. However, you won’t get compensation if it’s the result of something you’ve done.
SAVVY TIP: For electricity, it’s the distributor and not the energy supplier that’s responsible for power cuts. There are different distributors
The situation may be different if you’re on a prepayment meter, and it’s faulty. The meter will normally show an error message if that’s the case. If your prepayment meter is faulty, your supplier must fix the fault within four hours (three on a weekday).
SAVVY TIP: If there’s a power cut, you should call 105, not your energy supplier. This will put you through to your nearest electricity distribution network. If you smell gas or suspect there’s a leak, call 0800 111 999.
Planned power cuts
If your electricity or gas supply needs to be turned off so the company can do some work on it, you must be told about this in advance.
- For electricity power cuts: you must be given two days’ notice. If you aren’t, you’re entitled to £30 compensation (£60 for businesses). You must claim this within a month.
- For gas supply cuts: you must be given five days’ notice. If you aren’t, you’re entitled to £30 compensation. You must claim this within a month. If you’re on the Priority Services Register, the company that’s responsible for your gas pipes must arrange alternative heating and cooking facilities.
You have to claim this compensation from the electricity or gas distributor within one month. It will normally be paid to your supplier, which will credit your account.
SAVVY TIP: If you’re on your supplier’s Priority Services Register, you’ll get this compensation automatically. You may be eligible to be on this register if you’ve reached state pension age, if you’re disabled or ill or if you have young children.
Electricity power cuts during normal weather
If your electricity is cut off during normal weather, you may be able to claim £75 – or more if your power is cut off for several days.
The energy regulator, Ofgem, sets the amount you can claim. It says:
- If fewer than 5,000 homes are affected by the power cut: The company has 12 hours to restore the power supply. If it’s not fixed, you can claim £75 per household (£150 for businesses). You can claim another £35 for each 12-hour period that you’re without electricity.
- If 5,000 or more homes are affected by the same fault: The company has 24 hours to restore your electricity supply. If it’s not fixed, you can claim £75 per household (£150 for businesses). You can claim another £35 for each 12-hour period that you’re without electricity, up to a cap of £300.
SAVVY TIP: If your electricity is off more than four times in a year for over three hours each time, you’ll get an extra £75 compensation. The year isn’t a calendar year – it runs from April 1st to March 31st.
Electricity power cuts during bad weather
If there is a power cut during bad weather, you have to wait for longer before you’re entitled to compensation. The compensation you’re entitled to will depend on how the weather is categorised.
- If it’s category one severe weather: The company has 24 hours to restore the supply. After 24 hours you’re entitled to £70 compensation (for both households and business customers). There’s another £70 compensation for each 12-hour period you’re without electricity, with a cap of £700 on compensation.
- If it’s category two severe weather: The company has 48 hours to restore the supply. After 48 hours you’re entitled to £70 compensation (for both households and business customers). There’s another £70 compensation for each 12-hour period you’re without electricity, with a cap of £700 on compensation.
- If it’s category three severe weather: The company has longer to restore the supply. After this period you’re entitled to £70 compensation (for both households and business customers). There’s another £70 compensation for each 12-hour period you’re without electricity, with a cap of £700 on compensation.
SAVVY TIP: The severe weather categories don’t directly depend on the weather but are related to the number of power supply faults compared to the number during ‘normal’ weather.
Getting compensation payments
If the power cut was a result of bad weather, you should receive compensation automatically. If it was the result of something else, you should apply for it. You must do this within three months (except for planned power cuts where you haven’t been given proper notice).
Water supply cut off
If your water company is planning to do some repair work and your water will be off for more than four hours, it should give you at least 48 hours’ notice. The company also has to tell you when the supply will be restored.
- If the water company doesn’t give you 48 hours’ notice, you can claim £20 compensation.
- You can also claim £20 compensation if the water supply isn’t restored when the company says it will be. The compensation amounts are £50 for business customers.
SAVVY TIP: If you don’t get this compensation automatically, you should apply for it within three months.
If your water is cut off due to a burst pipe or flooding, your water company should give each person 10 litres of water a day. The water company must do this within the first 24 hours and make sure you have this allowance of water every day that your water supply is unavailable. This can be from bottled water, a bowser (which is a lorry with a water tank on the back) or stand pipes.
You can find out more about electricity power cuts and what to do on the Powercut105 website
There’s information on your compensation rights during a power cut on the Ofgem website. There’s also a link to a downloadable guide.
Ofwat, the water regulator, has information about your rights if your water supply is cut off on its website
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