Britons ‘cutting back on energy use’

Britons are cutting back on the amount of energy they use but are still paying more for it, new data has suggested.

The Office for Nation…

Britons are cutting back on the amount of energy they use but are still paying more for it, new data has suggested.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published a study showing that between 2007 and 2011, the value of energy spending rose 23.5 per cent, from £28.8 billion in 2007, to £35.6 billion in 2011.

However, in terms of the actual volume of energy used, Britons cut back in 2010 and 2011, although usage is still higher than in 2007.

Such a pattern might indicate that the rising cost of domestic fuel is a key driver of the reduction in energy use. Apart from the fact this may have left some people risking their health by staying cold during the winter, the lack of power use may show how much harder it is getting for consumers to afford energy when prices have been rising.

Indeed, for those who are in debt these problems could be particularly acute, as this and other increases in the cost of living at a time when many are losing their jobs or having to accept pay freezes could mean less and less money being available to pay off what is owed. And some may be behind on payments of their gas and electricity bills.

Such consumers may find they need debt help that, in the most extreme cases, could mean an individual voluntary arrangement (for total debts of around £15,000 or more) or even bankruptcy advice.

Commenting on the ONS findings, director of consumer policy at uSwicth.com Ann Robinson said: "In the last six years the average household energy bill has rocketed from £660 to £1,252 a year – a £592 or 90 per cent increase. This is an astonishing hike that has put households under a lot of pressure." 

She went on to suggest more than eight out of ten households rationed their energy usage in the winter just passed because of this.

By Joe White
 

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