Couple given £11,000 energy bill after struggling to find out who supplies their home

Person surprised by cost of monthly bills
The couple from Tamworth have faced a backdated payment of 18 years of unpaid gas bills totalling £10,824.87 (Image credit: Getty Images)

A couple from Tamworth was left shocked after receiving a bill for nearly £11,000 for 18 years of unpaid gas.

Lee Haynes, 44, a school site worker, and his partner, Jo Woodley, 45, say they never received any bills for their gas, despite claiming to try to find their gas supplier and make the payments.

Now the couple face having to make the payment within 30 days or else potentially have their gas supply cut off.  energy price rises.

Why is the couple's energy bill so large?

After moving to their new house in 2005 the couple said they never received bills for their gas, despite claiming that they tried to find the supplier and make the payments.

However, fast forward almost twenty years, and the duo have received a bill totalling £10,824.87, and have also been told they only have 30 days to make the payment.

Mr Haynes said: "It was very strange. After a few months we had bills for everything but not gas. I was worried about suddenly getting a big bill - so I tried really hard to find out who was supplying our gas.

"After two years of trying really hard to find our supplier and trying to pay British Gas, we were told there was nothing we could do.

"It would be fair enough to bill us if I hadn't tried, but they can't really expect me to keep trying for 18 years. There has to be shared responsibility for this."

Mr Haynes and Ms Woodley state that they had reached out to the ombudsman who advised them to "keep the paperwork and leave it" and the housing association apparently contacted all the suppliers they work with but the supplier could not be found. 

Why did it take this long for a gas bill to be sent?

The couple claim they couldn't find out who provided the property gas and so didn't know who to direct the payments towards.

Things changed when the couple received a letter from gas distributor Cadent in March 2023 wishing to investigate the property in order to find out who was supplying gas to the home.

To the couple's surprise three months later the bill arrived from Cadent for 18 years of unpaid gas.

A spokesman from Cadent said: "Whilst Cadent are not a gas supplier, as part of our gas transportation licence we have an obligation to investigate and use our reasonable endeavours to recover the cost of any gas used outside of a supplier contract. 

"Whilst we cannot comment on individual cases, we must stress we have a specialist team who are on hand to offer help and support to customers who are required to make a repayment."

Will the couple have to pay the bill?

The couple may find some reprieve if they can prove that the unpaid debt was not their fault.

Ofgem states: "You can’t be charged for gas or electricity used more than 12 months ago if you have not been correctly billed for it, or informed about it via a statement of account."

However, this only applies if homeowners did not behave "obstructively or unreasonably" in preventing accurate billing. This could include:

  • blocking meter readings at your property on more than one occasion
  • or, stealing gas or electricity.

This means that Mr Haynes and Ms Woodley may only have to pay for one year's gas supply, which would only be around £600, rather than the whole £10,824.87.

If you have also been told to pay backdated gas or electricity bills then Ofgem recommends contacting your supplier to inform them you cannot be charged for bills over 12 months ago, if the fault lies with the suppliers.

This could come as some relief to homeowners who are facing record fuel debt despite energy companies announcing billions in profits such as such as British Gas who announced £969 million in profit

Fuel debt is expected to grow further as energy prices could rise this winter with a rise in the energy price cap expected in November.

Joseph Mullane
News Editor

News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals.  Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.