Almost a quarter of households ‘in debt due to fuel cost’

Nearly a quarter of British households are in debt because of the rising cost of fuel, with this sort of financial problem even spreading into more af…

Nearly a quarter of British households are in debt because of the rising cost of fuel, with this sort of financial problem even spreading into more affluent homes.

This is according to uSwitch, which revealed 6.3 million (24 per cent) families are in fuel poverty.

However, if this figure is to be recalculated after housing costs – as is currently being suggested – this will rise to nine million homes, which is the equivalent of a third of all British households.

The current definition of fuel poverty does not take housing costs into account and so if mortgage and rent payments are factored in nearly half (47 per cent) of working class homes and 22 per cent of middle class families would fall under this umbrella term.

Energy bills have skyrocketed over the past five years by £472 (71 per cent), which has led to wealthier consumers struggling with the price of such utilities.

At present, single working parents are the most likely people to be in fuel poverty, with 39 per cent of these individuals falling into this category.

Of working class households, 36 per cent have serious difficulty affording to heat and light their dwelling and 44 per cent of low-income pensioners cannot afford these utility bills.

Director of consumer policy at uSwitch Ann Robinson said: "With household energy prices likely to rise again, many households, especially those on tight budgets, may like the security of a fixed price energy plan."

And water prices could also create a debt problem for British householders, because according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, a necessary price rise to accommodate infrastructure improvements could see £162 added to a typical bill.

By James Francis

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