Money Wellness
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calendar icon17 Jan 2024

Poorest have seen their energy debt double since 2022 – what to do if you’re behind with your bills

The amount owed by Britain’s most financially vulnerable customers to energy companies has doubled since the 2022 energy crisis, new analysis shows.

Research by Baringa reveals energy debt is rising, and disproportionately so for the poorest people.

Levels of debt where no payment plan has been agreed, almost always because the customer has too little disposable income for any plan to be viable, has risen by 104% between 2022 and the end of 2023.

During that period, the average amount owed by this group of customers has rocketed from £553 to £1,125.

Baringa warns without action the current situation could lead to an energy bill price spiral, where more people default on debts leading to costs being passed onto other customers.

Partner at Baringa Alasdair Dorrat said:

“Our assessment of the energy retail market underlines that the poor are getting poorer.

“The money owed to energy companies is growing and becoming concentrated amongst the people least able to pay it.

“This results in terrible circumstances for households, and knock-on effects for society: when financially vulnerable customers default on their debts, the cost of their defaults is loaded on to other people’s bills, raising prices and sucking yet more people into the spiral of unaffordability.”

Fallen behind with your energy bills?

This is our advice if you have energy debt you’re struggling to pay back.

Ask your supplier for help

The first thing you should do if you’ve got energy arrears is to speak to your supplier about how best to manage your situation. They may be able to help with a payment plan, if this is an affordable option for you. Even if it isn’t, it’s still worth contacting your supplier as many of them offer grants to customers who are struggling.

Reduce energy use

Another way to tackle high energy costs is to cut down on the amount of gas and electricity you use. You may be able to do this by taking advantage of schemes that provide financial help to insulate your home and following proven energy-saving tips.

Get debt advice

Last, but definitely not least, if you’re struggling to pay priority bills like gas and electricity, it’s probably time to get debt advice. We offer a whole range of help from checking you’re claiming all the benefits available to you, to offering budgeting advice, to talking you through the range of debt solutions available.

All of our advice and budgeting help is free, some debt solutions are also free, and for others there’s a fee. We’ll tell you what your options are, making sure you have all the facts you need to make an informed choice, then help you with whatever you decide to do. No pressure. It’s our job to make sure you know what help’s available to get your finances back on track.

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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