Consumers owe £624 million to energy providers

Published by on 11 March 2011.
Last updated on 11 March 2011

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Consumers are over £624 million in debt to energy providers, research has revealed.

The survey by uSwitch found five million households (19%) are in the red when it comes to energy bills. It claims consumers now owe an average £126 each to energy suppliers.

While 23% of those in debt say they intend to pay it off by lump sum and 42% plan to increase their direct debit, worryingly nearly a quarter (22%) say they won't be doing anything about it, hoping it will go down naturally over time.

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The bitter winters the UK has experienced lately and the spiralling costs of energy have been blamed for the debt crisis.

British Gas, Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern Energy, Npower, E-ON and EDF have all hiked prices in recent months.

Ann Robinson, director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com says consumers are still struggling to cope with previous rises and the new increases are "concerning".

"Consumers were knocked for six by the 41% or £334 increase in energy prices in 2008 and have been struggling to find their feet ever since," she says. "With prices now increasing by an average of 5.9% or £63, that struggle is about to become a lot harder."

Robinson says with households typically paying £1,132 a year for their energy, debt is symptomatic of the high cost of energy today.

"Households will have to adapt if they are to protect themselves and there are two key steps to this - make sure you are paying the lowest possible price for your energy and cut down on the amount of energy you use" she adds.

Check out the Moneywise Energy Switcher to see if you could save money on your utility provider:

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