From the 1st of June, following a brief moratorium during the covid lockdown, gas & electricity companies will once again be able to disconnect their customers if they fail to pay their bills.

From March 2020, at the start of the first lockdown, companies were banned by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) from cutting off consumers, on the basis that the lockdown had forced thousands out of work and many may struggle to pay their normal bills.

Now, this moratorium has ended, and companies will be able to disconnect customers from their services.

Defending the decision, CRU argued that the moratorium was putting customers in long term debt to suppliers, which they said “stored up the problem for customers at a later date.”

“The moratoriums that have been in place since March of last year have served to provide an additional layer of protection to gas and electricity customers at a difficult time,” said CRU Chairperson Aoife MacEvilly.

“As the Covid restrictions ease and society and the economy opens up again, the time has come to revert to the standard high levels of protection that exist for customers. This will help avoid increasing customer debt.

“All customers must be offered a reasonable and affordable debt recovery option which takes account of the individuals’ circumstances. This could be a payment plan or a pre-payment meter. Customers that engage and take one of these options will not be disconnected.”

Before the covid lockdown’s devastating effect on the economy, in January of 2020, 10% of households were struggling to pay monthly bills.

Spokespeople and organisation representing some hard-hit industries have warned that many businesses in certain sectors will never open again following the covid-19 pandemic.