Stop utility companies enabling financial abuse and economic abuse

Stop utility companies enabling financial abuse and economic abuse

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First Wives UK started this petition to Stephen Wheeler Airtricity and

FIRST WIVES UK FOUNDER Campaign

Utility companies are enabling abuse

Sometimes things are meant to happen and in the last few weeks our Founder was triggered into starting a campaign against the Utility companies. She started to do “shout-outs” on social media and soon realised that there is a huge UK wide problem! She is contacted every day by many First Wives and Husbands affected by a similar situation to this. There may or may not be physical abuse. That is irrelevant.

Here is one scenario. We will say Husband and Wife, but it could be an unmarried couple or we believe, anyone living in a shared house. The people moving in are both named on the tenancy agreement or deeds of the house.

Husband and Wife move into a house which they have purchased or are renting. The Husband sets up the utility bills for water, gas and electric by telephone and payments are made from the couple’s joint account. The bills come through in both names. Husband works and wife is a stay at home mum. They live in the house for 4 years and the marriage starts to crumble. In fact, one day Husband punches the Wife. A month later, after the physical abuse, the wife says that the Husband must leave. He doesn’t pay any maintenance for the children as he leaves his job so he does not have to. The couple have two children aged 6 and 8. They live in a 6 bedroom house and the bills have always been high.

After a couple of months, the wife starts to receive red bills saying that the bills are no longer being paid. She sees that the letters are now only addressed to her. She calls the Utility company and is told that her husband has removed himself from responsibility. The house takes a lot of money to run as it’s large, but she has nowhere else to go. The tenancy is still running for another year or the Husband is still on the deeds of the house. The children live in the house. The Wife calls the utility company and says that her husband is still responsible for the account – she is told that he is not responsible as he simply called and said he was not. Wife is very anxious and scared. Debt collection bills start to turn up. She has no money to pay the bills and Husband has simply been able to wash his hands of the responsibility, even though he actually set the account up and chose the provider and even though his children still live in the property and he is still married to his Wife.

The bills mount and mount and there is a risk that the utilities could be cut off from the house. Wife starts to receive benefits, but they do not cover the cost of the rent (which she is also left with) and everything else that goes with looking after 2 children. She cannot cope and at times she feels suicidal. Husband is living with his friend and has no responsibilities. He has been able to just leave everything he signed up to.

Is it right that someone can move into a property with someone else, taking joint responsibility and sometimes sole responsibility for that account and then, when they don’t like that responsibility any more, they can simply make a call and leave the other person with sole responsibility.

If a couple have a joint bank account, they have taken full responsibility for that TOGETHER as adults. They have made that conscious decision as two consenting adults. If they split, they have to come to an agreement about who will take responsibility, again, as two, conscious consenting adults One part of the couple cannot simply make that decision.

It is irrelevant if there are children involved or not, but obviously it is even worse if it is affecting children.

There are cases where one partner had sole responsibility and then simply made a call and put the bills into their partners name. It is the opinion of First Wives UK – THAT THIS IS WRONG!

If there is a divorce etc, then the responsibility for utility bills should be part of the divorce proceedings, as a bank account would be. Any debts with utility companies should be written down in the Form E as part of proceedings and dealt with in court or during mediation, just as a bank account. If the couple are not married and there is a dispute about removing one name from an account, it should be dealt with in the same manner as a back account would. If an agreement cannot be reached, then it would be a case of going to court.

It is not right for one person to walk away and simply shirk responsibility for what is the main thread of family life; warmth, ability to cook and water.

By changing things, Economic Abusers will not be able to walk away and use the utility companies in their Post Separation Abuse. If one part of a partnership walks away and leaves the other with responsibility for the utility bills, without formal discussion, they are an abuser!

Economic Abuse is the tail of Domestic Abuse. When the abuser can no longer reach the Victim physically they often turn to Economic Abuse and there are men and women across the country suffering RIGHT NOW!

This has to stop.

You take out the responsibility together, you exit the responsibilty together using discussion, be that mediation or by going through the courts. A domestic violence victim may not be able to discuss or mediate and in these cases, utility companies will have to act with compassion until matters are sorted. There is no point in harassing a victim who has no assets. Debts on accounts must remain joint until agreement is reached. Couples should deal with utility bill accounts as they would their bank account.

There are children suffering across the UK. Single parents suffering mentally day in, day out. Worried that the utilities are going to be switched off and panicking as their debts to these companies rise and they find themselves wholly responsible. They are unable to parent properly as they suffer from severe anxiety. They find themselves snapping at their children as their stress levels increase.

There are cases where a partner has even managed to backdate the point where they say they were no longer responsible and the utilty companies have simply gone ahead without permission from the person left on the account.

When someone sets up an account in joint names, permission should be sought from ALL PARTIES that their name can go onto the account. It is not right that names are being added and removed from accounts without the consent of the other person.

Have you been affected by the above matters? If so, we want to hear from YOU!

We need your stories and experiences and want you to clarify these points within your email to us. CLICK HERE for further information on how to EMAIL YOUR STORY TO US

 

 

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