NEW ANALYSIS by campaigning group Debt Justice shows that the total energy debt for UK households was hitting historic highs even before the energy price rise in April 2022.
The analysis, based on the latest data from the energy regulator Ofgem, reveals that total debt owed by households grew from £1.5 to £2.1 billion in the twelve months to April 2022, a rise of 38 per cent. This was before the annual energy price cap was raised by 54 per cent to £1,971.
The figures show that energy debts are already burdening households to an unprecedented degree as the cost-of-living crisis grows. Debt Justice is calling on the government to cap energy prices and pay off energy debt by expanding the windfall tax on energy producers.
Despite government intervention energy prices are set to rise by another 26 per cent, to £2,500, in October. This threatens to push millions more households into energy debt.
Louisa from south London said: “I am already paying back over £2000 of gas debt and at this rate it will take another four years to pay it off. During this time, I can’t move to a cheaper supplier.
“My electric has already jumped from £40 a month to around £60 to £70 and I’m having sleepless nights. My anxiety gets worse every time my bills are due as I fear I won’t be able to make ends meet. A £100 grocery shop now only lasts us one week when it used to last two. Writing off this gas debt would make a real difference to my family this winter.”
Heidi Chow, Executive Director at Debt Justice said: “Astronomical energy bills are exacerbating Britain’s household debt crisis. The government cannot afford to ignore record levels of energy debt that will drive even more poverty and hardship for years to come.
“Liz Truss’ plans must include writing off energy debt to give everyone a fighting chance of keeping the lights on this winter.”
* Source: Debt Justice