Number of UK households in energy debt increases by 300,000, owing nearly £400 million
15 December 2018
Research published by the consumer web site Uswitch reveals that, as winter’s cold weather bites, the number of households already in debt to energy suppliers in the UK rose by 300,000 in the past year.
The outstanding debt owed to power companies in October this year totalled £393 million, an increase of nearly a quarter on the same time last year. It is usually expected that households should be in credit at this time of year, with the expectation that as the colder months ahead arrive, consumers will have the money to pay for higher winter bills.
The debts themselves have been in large part due to increased price hikes from the major power suppliers that have taken place over the last two years, with the six biggest suppliers putting up tariffs twice this year.
Fuel poor households are defined as those households with above average energy costs, with their income falling below the official poverty line after paying for lighting and heating their homes.
Peter Smith, director of policy and research at National Energy Action (NAC), said, “Millions of people are approaching this winter with dread and will face unimaginable situations. Those who are repaying large or growing energy debts don’t turn the heating on at all, despite knowing it could badly damage their or their family’s health.”
The rise in fuel poverty takes place despite the utilities price cap for millions of vulnerable households that started in April 2017.
A study carried out earlier this year by NAC, and the climate change charity E3G, found that up to 3,000 people are dying each year in the UK because they cannot afford to heat their homes, with the UK having the second worst…