3 million in debt to energy suppliers – more than last year | Personal Finance | Finance


Households owe around £510million, up £77million on 2020, as they feel the pressure of rising energy costs, comparison service Uswitch found.

Although energy accounts should ideally be in credit after the summer months, the average amount owed to energy suppliers is £153 per bill payer.

Justina Miltienyte, energy policy expert at Uswitch, said: “No customer should have to choose between heating or eating and it’s alarming that many households are facing that decision this winter.”

Of those in debt, three fifths said they owed a higher or the same amount as last year, while one in eight owed less. And 59 percent of those polled said they were worried about how they would pay for their energy bills this winter.

Almost a fifth (17 percent) said they would avoid putting the heating on even when cold – while more than two million households will spend less money on food, the research indicates. There has been an unprecedented increase in global gas prices in recent months, putting pressure on suppliers.

Consumers are protected by the price cap, which dictates the maximum amount firms can charge households for gas and electricity.

But, at the start of last month, regulator Ofgem increased the cap for customers on default tariffs from £1,138 for a typical user to £1,277, a rise of £139. The cap for prepayment customers increased from £1,156 to £1,309.

Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, said: “We have put tough rules in place to ensure suppliers treat customers who are struggling with bills fairly, and welcome their commitment to reach out to those who most need help. Where help is not forthcoming, we will not hesitate to act.”

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