Millions of UK homes are owed their energy money – with £1.3 billion in debt, even before bills are set to rise by more than 80 per cent.
The total debt bill is already three times higher than it was a year ago, and it looks like it will grow even more over the winter, according to analysts at Uswitch.
Six million homes across the UK owe their energy supplier about £206 on average, according to a survey from the company. In April, the same average debt was £188.
Usually at this time of year, bill payers have accrued a ‘float’ during the warmer months, to help eliminate rising bills in the winter.
Regulator Ofgem is expected to raise the energy bill price ceiling to £3,582 a year for the average UK household from the start of October, according to a new forecast.
Analysts at Cornwall Insight have predicted further gains, £4,266 in January and then £4,427 from the beginning of April.
Justina Miltienyte, Uswitch’s head of policy, said: “Energy debt has hit an all-time high with the worst possible timing, making this winter’s energy price hike a turning point. extremely precarious situation for many households.”
“This is an alarming situation, as traditionally summer is a time when households use less electricity for heating, which helps bill payers accumulate energy credits in advance. winter.”
Energy bills have become a major focus of the Tory leadership’s campaign.
He said the “zombie government needs to wake up earlier than September 5”, when the new Tory leader and prime minister will be announced, as projections of the new bill are “unacceptable for millions”. People”.
Tony Danker, the head of the CBI, also called for the two to come into the room together to solve the problem.
The Uswitch survey found eight million households had no credit balance, meaning they had no cushion against the winter misery.
Nearly one in five (18%) said they were worried about a supplier forcing them to charge them upfront if they were late in their bill, although 38% said they didn’t know their supplier could do this.
“If you are late in paying your bill or your energy account is about to owe, talk to your supplier as soon as possible,” says Ms. Miltienyte.
“They’ll be able to help you find a solution, such as working out a more affordable payment plan. You may also find yourself eligible for extra support, such as a hardship fund and grants. other energy assistance programs.
“The government also needs to take energy debt seriously before winter – and a larger package of support for vulnerable households needs to be unanimously prioritized.”