Joanne's Story

What began as a routine reduction in a direct debit turned into a daunting debt of nearly £2,000, leaving Joanne feeling overwhelmed and shaken.

Navigating the complexities and nuances of an energy bill can be challenging for the best of us, and usually there is a level of trust that the calculations made by energy providers are accurate and ensure the balance is fulfilled.

However, Joanne’s regular direct debit clearly wasn’t enough and the debt started to mount. When the amount hit four figures, Joanne found herself struggling to comprehend the terms and calculations involved, and ultimately how she found herself in such a situation.

Spiralling out of control

She said: “I was very scared. I thought to myself – it’s spiralling out of control.”

“I’ve had issues with energy companies before but I’ve never come to you [Citizens Advice Barnet] before to help me. I’ve always worked them out, but on this occasion this amount was so big and I just felt overwhelmed with it all.

“With my health issues as well, I couldn’t cope with everything – it just got too much,” she added.

Cost of living crisis

The cost of living crisis further exacerbated Joanne’s concerns, as she, like many other people, are feeling the pressure of rising prices for essentials like food. In such a precarious financial climate, the prospect of energy arrears only heightened her anxiety.

Determined to find a resolution, Joanne sought assistance from various organisations, eventually finding her way to Citizens Advice Barnet. She was connected with Natalie, who swiftly took action to address her concerns.


Natalie’s immediate reassurance that the debt should be wiped off provided Joanne with a glimmer of hope in an otherwise distressing situation. However, bureaucratic hurdles and communication breakdowns with her energy provider prolonged the process, leaving Joanne feeling frustrated and anxious.

Despite the setbacks, with the support of Natalie and Citizens Advice Barnet, she eventually received confirmation that the debt had indeed been wiped off.

Reflecting on her experience, Joanne emphasised not only the financial implications but also the emotional toll of being burdened with such a significant debt.

Advice to others

Joanne’s advice to others facing similar challenges is clear: seek help and be prepared with all necessary paperwork to expedite the process. She encourages others to take advantage of organisations, like Citizens Advice Barnet, that can make a significant difference in resolving complex issues.

“Natalie really helped. As I came out of our meeting I felt that you really did support me, and I thought your service was excellent,” she said.

As this story illustrates, navigating energy debts can be daunting, especially in the face of a cost of living crisis. However, with the right support and advocacy, individuals like Joanne can overcome these challenges and regain control of their financial wellbeing.