The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has put in place a moratorium on all disconnections of domestic customers to take effect from this month until December 1. 

This follows the recent introduction of Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.  

The CRU is encouraging all customers to avoid building debt by continuing to pay bills as usual or, if they face difficulty doing so, to engage with their supplier to enter into payment arrangements. 

The Commission said it has been closely monitoring the arrears levels of customers and the number of disconnections during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

It noted that while the arrears levels have increased, the levels of disconnections have not risen correspondingly when compared to previous years.

It said this indicated that suppliers are working with their customers to avoid disconnections. 

While the CRU acknowledges the steps that suppliers are taking to protect their own customers, it considers the temporary moratorium to be an important protection for customers at a challenging time.

But while the moratorium provides a temporary respite from disconnection, the CRU also said it was concerned that customers may face higher debt, particularly as bills increase during the winter months.

Utility companies yesterday gave assurances to consumers that they will implement a moratorium on disconnections for non-payment for the duration of Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.

Several utilities have also promised a price freeze for the coming months, but in some cases it comes on the back of a price hike from many electricity providers.

Aoife MacEvilly, Chairperson of the CRU, said that while the Commission considers this temporary moratorium to be an important protection for customers at this time, it is equally concerned about the potential for increasing customer debt. 

"This is why we are encouraging all customers to continue to pay their bills as usual, or if they face difficulty doing so, to engage with their suppliers. The CRU acknowledges that suppliers are also taking steps to protect their own customers," Ms MacEvilly said. 

"The CRU is also encouraging customers to switch on to their customer rights, including the protections in place for vulnerable customers. The CRU will continue to monitor the situation and will take any further steps that are necessary," she added.