Consumers struggling to pay utility bills

According to the bureau, prices are on average 60 per cent more than in 2003, leaving many in debt as they struggle to pay bills just to survive.

“This is the latest in a series of price increases hitting people on low incomes,” said Tony Herbert of Citizens Advice. “We’re starting to see evidence of people struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills but we expect that this will grow massively over the winter months.”

Criticism of rising utility bills comes as Powergen announces that it is to join British Gas and npower in raising prices despite producing a profit.

Mr Herbert said that utility prices have a “hard impact” on people with low incomes and not everyone may be able to cope with a rise in the cost of living and the debt this incurs.

IVA provider ClearDebt urged all creditors to be realistic about energy costs when considering IVAs.

“Many creditors want to cut back on energy costs when we put forward an Individual Voluntary Arrangement Proposal,” commented ClearDebt marketing director, Andrew Smith.

“But debtors have to live and asking for the amounts allowed for utility bills to be lowered could make the whole arrangement unsustainable – which helps no-one.”

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