Family vitality debt has hit a five-year excessive – even earlier than the costlier months of the yr.
A brand new survey revealed that common family vitality debt is £216, up 13 per cent in contrast with the determine of £190 seen this time final yr.
The ballot, for comparability website Uswitchfound that the variety of houses that owe cash to their provider has risen from 2,800,000 to three,200,000, a hike of 11 per cent.
Greater than 9 million households don’t have any vitality credit score going into winter, in accordance with the survey.
Richard Neudegg, director of regulation at Uswitch, mentioned: “Increase a struggle chest of round two months of vitality credit score is vital as we head into winter, and it’s worrying that greater than 9 million households don’t have any buffer towards the coldest months.
“Common family vitality debt for autumn is on the highest degree we’ve seen in additional than 5 years. And with the value cap altering each three months, households are dealing with much more uncertainty this yr, as costs are anticipated to rise once more in January.
“In case your vitality account goes into debt or you’re behind in your invoice funds, converse to your supplier as quickly as potential. They need to find a way that will help you discover a resolution, akin to figuring out a extra inexpensive fee plan. You may additionally discover you’re eligible for extra help, akin to hardship funds and different vitality assist schemes.”
Final week, Britain’s vitality watchdog, Ofgemsaid it was launching a session on choices to guard the vitality market, after figures in the summertime confirmed that debt had reached a document £2.6bn because of hovering wholesale costs and cost-of-living pressures on households.
The watchdog introduced it was contemplating a one-off improve to the vitality value cap in an effort to stop suppliers from going bust as they face spiralling client money owed. The proposed improve may see households pay as much as £17 a yr extra – or £1.50 a month – on common, “to scale back the danger of vitality corporations going bust or leaving the market because of unrecoverable debt”.
The ballot for Uswitch, which surveyed 2,000 vitality invoice payers between 26 September and a pair of October, additionally discovered:
- Two-fifths of these in arrears (40 per cent) say their debt is greater than final yr, and greater than 1 / 4 (28 per cent) consider their place is about the identical as 12 months in the past.
- Nearly one in seven (14 per cent) say they’ve moved from being in credit score a yr in the past to being in debt now.
- Greater than half of households (53 per cent) are anxious about how they’ll pay their vitality payments this winter, with only a quarter (25 per cent) saying they’re unconcerned.
- Nearly a fifth (18 per cent) plan to repay the debt in a single lump sum, 1 / 4 (25 per cent) will improve their direct debit, and one in seven (13 per cent) hope to agree on a compensation plan with their supplier.
- A tenth of households (9 per cent) say they can not afford to repay their arrears.
- Practically half (49 per cent) say they’ll put on additional layers at residence to allow them to maintain the heating at a decrease degree, whereas one in 4 (25 per cent) say they won’t be turning on the heating even when it’s chilly.
- The ballot additionally discovered that just about three-fifths of households (59 per cent) have constructed up a credit score stability forward of winter, at a mean of £236 – down barely from £249 final autumn.