UK household energy debt hits five-year high at £216

The number of households in arrears to energy providers has risen by 11% compared to the previous year, with nearly nine million households lacking any energy credit, according to a new report

Household energy debt in the UK has surged to a five-year high of £216 ahead of the winter season.

That’s according to research by Uswitch, which suggests the number of homes in arrears to their energy providers increased by 11% compared to the previous year.

The average debt per household has increased by 13% from last year’s figure of £190 and the total number of households in debt to their energy suppliers has grown from 2.8 million to 3.2 million, according to the report.

It is estimated that more than nine million households are entering the winter months without any energy credit.

Typically, households should accumulate energy credit during the summer to provide financial cushioning for the colder months.

Of those in arrears, 40% report higher debt levels compared to the previous year, while 28% claim their situation remains unchanged from 12 months ago.

Notably, 14% have transitioned from being in credit a year ago to currently being in debt.

More than half of households (53%) express concerns about their ability to cover their energy bills this winter, with only 25% expressing no worries.

Many households in energy debt lack a plan for improving their financial situation, the survey reveals.

A significant proportion (23%) simply hope the problem will resolve itself over time.

Nearly one-fifth (18%) intend to settle the debt in a lump sum, while 25% plan to increase their direct debit.

In contrast, 13% aim to negotiate a repayment plan with their energy provider. Alarmingly, 9% admit they can’t afford to clear their arrears.

With the approach of winter, many households are contemplating drastic measures to cut energy costs.

Approximately 49% intend to wear extra layers indoors to keep the heating at a lower level, and 25% are considering not using the heating even when it’s cold.

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