10 million households cannot afford energy bill hikes

15 August 2008 / by Rebecca Sargent
As energy bills continue to rise, more than 10 million Brits are concerned they will not be able to afford the further gas and electricity price hikes that are predicted to hit, research from uSwitch.com has revealed.

According to uSwitch.com, gas and electricity bills have so far gone from £912 in January to £1,127 today. To make matters worse, consumers have been advised of further rises for the remainder of 2008, potentially hoisting fuel bills to an unrealistic £1,467 a year – a 61 per cent rise for 2008.

As inflation rises and the average Brit's disposable income shrinks, the number of households who will struggle to pay the bills is rising. According to uSwitch.com's research, half of all UK households will be making energy saving changes in order to cut down on winter heating bills.

Prior to recent hikes from EDF Energy and British Gas, pensioners were the main group hit by fuel strife; however, turn to today and 40 per cent of 35-44 and 45-54 year olds confess that they cannot afford the extra costs either.

The news coincides with recent research from moneysupermarket.com which found that a third of Brits are already concerned about how they will afford to heat their homes through the coming winter.

The Government is making attempts to alleviate some of the pressure being felt by consumers, but nothing has been set in stone yet. Rumours are still doing the rounds over the Governments speculated voucher scheme that could offer help to the value of between £50 and £150 to the UK's poorest households.

Director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, Ann Robinson, said: "The second wave of energy price rises has put the final nail in the coffin for affordable energy. News of the Government's much speculated £150 one-off rebate for families receiving child benefits will provide respite for some households, but for others, it will be a drop in the ocean. The meteoric rise in the cost of living is affecting virtually every household and age group.

"Households who are concerned about their jobs, their homes and their ongoing ability to pay their bills will be left with no choice but to cut back on both heating and eating this winter, she added, "The Government needs to provide a strategy and regulatory environment to ensure that the lights stay on at an affordable price."

Speaking of the importance of shopping around and the need to compare gas and electricity prices, she concluded: "Consumers cannot afford to ignore this – they need to take action now to stand any chance of limiting the impact of higher prices. Online energy plans remain a good option for those who want to pay a lower price now."

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