Money Wellness
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calendar icon24 Apr 2024

‘Black clouds hanging over’ people with energy debt

The government has been urged to help the growing number of people in the UK who have fallen behind with their energy bills.

MP for East Lothian in Scotland Kenny MacAskill said although the weather is improving, the summer months no longer allow people to catch up with their payments. He said:

“Millions have not bright sunshine, but black clouds hanging over them.”

The stats

MacAskill quoted figures from Ofgem showing:

  • energy debt across the UK is currently £3.1bn
  • average debt has increased by about 50% over the last year
  • there’s been a 20% rise over the past 12 months in the number of households in debt

Prepayment meter customers pay more but get less

MacAskill also highlighted the plight of people on prepayment meters who have energy debt. He explained debt repayments are added to consumption charges, pointing out this means:

“Folk pay more but get less, with debt, not just standing charges, to be met before they even get a flicker – and people may not be able to switch supplier even if lower tariffs are available.”

Call for change

The MP is calling on the government to take urgent action. He wants:

  • a social tariff for the poorest and most vulnerable
  • a suspension of forced prepayment meter installations
  • targeted and higher warm-home-discount payments to those most in need
  • a debt write-off scheme for those who will never be able to pay what they owe in full

MacAskill concluded:

“Action needs to be taken to ease the cost of energy and reduce the burden of debt for the poorest and most vulnerable.”

Need help?

If you’ve fallen behind with your energy bills and can’t catch up:

For more help check out our blog on what to do if you’re behind with your energy bills.

Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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