More than three million UK households are facing a troubled winter in debt to their energy supplier – half a million more than last year – according to comparison service USwitch.com
Its latest research reveals that 59 per cent of households say they are either worried, or very worried, about how they are going to pay for their energy bills over the coming months.
Almost a fifth (17 per cent) of households say they will now avoid putting the heating on even when it’s cold, and more than two million will spend less on food/
The anxiety reflects rising levels of debt, as UK households are now going into the coldest time of year owing £510m to suppliers.
This is an increase of £77m since 2020, with many feeling extra pressures caused by the rising cost of energy.
Meanwhile, the number of households in credit has fallen by four per cent compared to last year.
Three fifths of indebted households (62 per cent) say their debt is higher or the same as it was last year, while only one in eight (13 per cent) say the amount they owe is lower.
The average amount owed is £153.
Justina Miltienyte, energy policy expert at Uswitch.com, said: “No customer should have to choose between heating or eating and it’s alarming that many households are facing that decision this winter.”
Offering advice to consumers, she added” “Anyone who is worried about their energy bills, or their existing debt, should contact their energy supplier in the first instance to see if they can set up an affordable repayment plan.”
USwitch used Opinium to conduct the research, who surveyed over 2,000 adults in the UK to reach their findings.
The findings follow the collapse of four more UK energy firms this week as challenger companies struggle with spiralling wholesale costs.