Sunday, October 25, 2009

50% more brits behind on their energy bills

Telegraph | The number of people falling behind with fuel bills soared by nearly 50pc during the past six months, a charity warned today.

Citizens Advice said it had seen a 46pc increase in the number of people contacting it during the six months to the end of September who had fuel debts, compared with the same period of the previous year.

It said the rise continued a trend seen in recent years, with the number of people who were in debt to their fuel supplier jumping by 82pc since 2005/2006.

The majority of people who owed money on their energy bills in 2008/2009 were of working age, with only 5pc of people aged over 65.

Eight out of 10 people who were behind with their energy bills had incomes which were half the national average, with 32pc living off less than £400 a month, while a quarter of people with fuel debt had a disability.

David Harker, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "We are already seeing large increases in the number of people in fuel debt and it is not yet winter.

"With fuel prices remaining at historically high levels it is essential that people get all the help that is available.

"Recent Government increases in Warm Front Grants and Cold Weather Payments will go some way towards helping but information on what help is available, targeted to those who are most vulnerable, must be a prime focus for the Government and energy companies."