According to new statistics from Uswitch, the comparison and switching website, more than three million households are approaching the winter in debt to their energy supplier, up half a million from last year.
Households are facing a £510 million debt at the start of the coldest season, up £77 million since 2020, with many facing additional financial strains as a result of increased energy costs. After the summer months, energy accounts should ideally be in credit, which is the situation for 13.9 million homes. Building credit over the summer months usually prevents a significant spike in bills throughout the winter, when we spend the majority of our yearly energy use.
However, as compared to the previous year, the number of people in credit has decreased by 4%.
Three-fifths of those in debt (62%) say their debt is more or the same as it was last year, while only one-in-eight (13%) say their debt is lower. The average debt amount is £153.
This year, more over half of households (59%) say they are concerned or very concerned about how they will pay their energy costs this winter. Almost a fifth (17%) of homes say they would go beyond simply conserving energy and will avoid turning on the heater even when it is chilly, and over two million will spend less on food. A variety of charities and organizations have been established to assist folks who are concerned about debt – or are unsure where to seek aid and guidance.Uswitch is now urging people to check to see whether they qualify for any assistance.
Debt groups such as StepChange help those who are having financial troubles, while the National Energy Action (NEA) provides information on energy bills and staying warm at home. Winter Fuel Payment, Cold Weather Payment, and Warm Home Discount are some of the additional assistance programs provided to poor customers. Customers may also use Uswitch’s eligibility tool to see if they are eligible for specific programs.
“No consumer should have to pick between heating and eating,” said Justina Miltienyte, an energy policy specialist at Uswitch.com. “It’s worrisome that many homes are faced with that dilemma this winter.”
“Anyone who is concerned about their energy bills or current debt should contact their energy supplier first to see whether an acceptable repayment plan may be put up.”
“There are also numerous charities and organizations set up to give assistance, such as StepChange and the National Endowment for the Arts, so it’s vital to do your homework and discover what aid is available to you.”
“Customers who are having trouble paying their bills may be eligible for further assistance. Almost all of the providers that participated last year are still accepting applications for the Warm Home Discount. Customers who are eligible can save £140 on their energy bills, therefore we encourage everyone to check to see if they are eligible.”