2011 was a record year for fuel debts
Debt advice charity the Money Advice Trust says its National Debtline has seen a significant increase in the number of people calling about fuel debts since it started recording the figures in 2004.
Seven years ago fuels debts accounted for just 2.7% of all calls to National Debtline, but last year that figure had increased to 13.7%.
As the prices for gas and electricity services have increased, the number of people struggling to afford to heat and power their homes has grown exponentially.
In 2011 more than 27,000 people contacted National Debtline for help with fuel debts. In January this year the helpline received a call for help with gas and electricity debts every five minutes its lines were open.
The Money Advice Trust is now warning consumers that they risk being cut off from gas and electricity if they fail to keep up with payments, and urging them to seek advice early to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, says: “Increasing energy costs mean most of us have to pay increasing attention to how much gas or electricity we use and whether or not we have the right tariff. It is a serious problem in this country that so many people will be wondering whether they can afford to boil a kettle or turn on the heating.
“We are now taking well over 2,000 calls a month for help with fuel debts. The growth in the number of people struggling to meet energy bills reflects a sharp increase in prices over the last few years.”