Householders in the UK have seen their energy bills soar by 55% in a decade despite cutting the amount of gas and electricity they use by almost a fifth.
New statistics reveal consumers spent an average of £106 a month on household energy in 2012 compared to just £69 a month in 2002 although the amount of energy used per household was 17% lower in 2012 than in 2002.
Despite the significant rise in energy spend, householders have not seen a comparable increase in their disposable income, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. Energy spend is now equivalent to 5.1% of disposable income for the average household, up from 3.3% in 2002.
The poorest fifth of households spent £93 a month on energy in 2012 – equivalent to 11% of their disposable income – compared to £126 a month for the richest fifth – equivalent to 3% of their disposable income.
Scottish households have the highest energy costs in Britain, spending £112 a month on average compared to £105 in Wales and £103 in England. However, all three nations spend less than Northern Ireland, where the average is £154 a month.
The report stated: “The higher average spend in Northern Ireland may be partly explained by the different nature and size of the energy market there. Due to a relatively limited gas network, many homes in Northern Ireland rely on oil-fired central heating, which is likely to lead to higher energy costs.
“The Northern Ireland House Conditions survey found that 68% of households used heating oil for central heating. Also, in those areas where mains gas is available, the market is not yet fully open to competition, with only a single supplier operating in some areas.”