4 million UK households in debt to energy suppliers7th May 2014
Nearly four million households in the UK owe money to their energy supplier.
This is according to new research from uSwitch.com, which highlighted that 14 per cent of homes nationwide had not settled their bills. In total, £464 million remains unpaid.
Consumers are struggling more now than they were this time last year, after a winter of price rises. Even with the milder weather, the average debt is £128 – a hike of £5.
A typical energy bill is £53 higher now than it was at the beginning of 2013. Only nine per cent of those polled said they owed less than last year, while one-third conceded their level of debt is now greater.
However, it's not just the recent price hikes that have brought about these financial concerns. An average family is forced to pay £1,265 annually for energy, which is £793 more than ten years ago – a 168 per cent surge.
Unfortunately, 'ignorance is bliss' seems to be the tactic of some of those who have amassed debt.
As many as one in four have decided to ignore their bleak economic situation regarding energy bills and are just hoping this outstanding amount will decrease as time passes.
The growing concern over unpaid sums of money is forcing almost one in ten (nine per cent) to consider a repayment plan with their energy supplier. More than two-fifths (43 per cent) intend to raise how much they pay via direct debit, while one in five (21 per cent) will settle it with a lump sum.
Director of consumer policy at the price comparison website Ann Robinson said these figures revealed "the extreme pressure families are under to meet the rising cost of energy".
She sympathised with those who were in energy debt, as – while bills could be reduced by switching tariffs – debt could be seen as a deterrent from taking the plunge.
Ms Robinson urged consumers to start paying by direct debit as it spreads the cost evenly throughout the year, eliminating the prospect of an increased bill in the colder, winter months.
Pauline Cleaver: I'm definitely one of those adopting the ignorance is bliss method.
Matt Skanton: From my experience, it's worth spending the time shopping around to see if a cheaper rate is out there. I've recently switched to LED bulbs, hoping that makes a difference too.
Jim Peterson: I can't afford to pay my bills – what's the point in making them marginally cheaper?
Posted by The EnerGenie