Since January 2016, the average energy bill for a family has risen by over £50 and now sits at £1,494.00 per year.
Over the past 10 years, the average household bill has soared by a staggering 168%.
Director of consumer policy at Uswitch Ann Robinson, says;
Those in energy debt can face a catch-22. Despite knowing they could reduce their bills by moving to a cheaper energy plan, many see debt as a barrier to switching, she said. With a difference of over 300 between the cheapest and most expensive tariff on the market, consumers cannot afford to have this avenue closed to them. This is why its so important to provide regular meter readings to suppliers as relying on estimated bills can be a shortcut to debt.
The survey indicated that of the people asked, 25% are hoping to turn a blind eye to the rising debt in the hope that it will eventually cancel itself out. 21% confirmed that they plan to pay off their debt in one lump sum and 43% confirmed that they planned to increase their direct debit payments in order to slowly pay off the debt.
Feeding the Family in the Dark
The reality is that in Britain in the 21st century ordinary working people can’t afford the huge cost of gas and electricity.
One in four families agree that they ration the amount of household energy they use in order to allocate the money elsewhere for payments such as rent and food.
In a Shelter YouGov poll of 4,000 people, 4 out of 10 families admitted that they have reduced the amount of money they spend on food in order to meet basic housing costs and 64% struggled to meet their monthly rent and mortgage payments.
With the cost of living continuing to escalate, a great number of families are finding themselves in a position where they simply do not have enough monthly income to cover the basics like rent, electricity and food. Figures show that 76,790 children were living in temporary accommodation and over 34,080 households with children were considered homeless.
The UK is the 5th biggest economy in the world and we have people who can’t afford to cook a meal for their children.
Meanwhile the big energy companies are making hundreds of millions in profits. And the government just seem to be making things worse!
Shelter’s Chief Executive Campbell Robb said,
“These startling figures show the daily heartache millions of parents are going through as they face the choice between putting food on the table and paying for the roof over their head. The effects of the recession, the rising cost of housing and cuts to the housing safety net have left many families in a very vulnerable position. Every fifteen minutes a family in England finds themselves homeless.
We’ve seen more and more people coming to us for help in the last six months. For thousands of people already desperately battling to keep their home, further benefit changes this month could be the final blow”
Shelter urges anyone who is struggling to make ends me to contact them as soon as possible for help and advice. They can be reached by their website or on 0808 800 4444
And while people are scrimping and saving to keep their energy bills as low as possible. They are still getting into debt.
20% of UK Households Owe Money to Energy Suppliers
20% of UK households have reported being in debt to their energy supplier which equates to a collective debt of over £637 million.
In research undertaken by USwitch, over 5 million households have confirmed negative funds relating to their energy bills, averaging around £123 each, and this is thought to be direct result of increasing energy prices.
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch said;
The soaring number of households in debt to energy suppliers is a clear indication of the pressure people are coming under just to meet the cost of their basic bills.
The fact that a million more households have fallen behind in the last year so that over five million are now in debt to suppliers tells us everything we need to know about the impact of sky-high energy prices.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING?
The first thing you need to do if you’re in debt is strike a deal with your energy company. They’d rather get a small amount each week than nothing and it costs them money to take you to court. But don’t just ignore it. Get it sorted out.
Take meter readings regularly and send them to your supplier. This way you are paying for the energy you use and not what the energy company estimates you use.
The second thing you need to do is get over to uSwitch or any other price comparison site and see what better deals you can get.
If you Choose to pay for your gas and electricity by monthly direct debit payments. Suppliers usually offer a discount for paying this way which could save you up to 10% on your energy bills.
You should also think about how you can reduce your energy consumption (read my article on ways to save) and get some better insulation on your property. Energy efficient properties with adequate insulation and modern boilers are two of the most cost effective ways to reduce the cost of household energy.