Coping with the worry of energy debt
Soaring gas and electricity prices have forced thousands of people to fall into the misery of energy debt.
The latest figures released by energy regulator Ofgem (21 January) reveal an alarming climb in the number of people falling behind with their energy
The number of gas customers having to set up new debt repayment schemes to pay their bills soared by 21 per cent in the third quarter of last year,
compared to the second quarter. Meanwhile the number of electricity customers getting into debt with their bills rose by 13 per cent in the same three
It's hardly surprising that so many families are experiencing difficulties.
Apart from the number of folk who have lost their jobs or had their hours cut back during the recession, all energy users have been hit by higher bills
By the turn of this year, average bills had climbed Â£327 since the beginning of 2008, despite widespread price cuts towards the end of 2009.
That extra Â£327 has obviously proved a few pounds too much for financially struggling families to cope.
Don't cut yourself off from your bills
The good news is that energy companies are unlikely to cut you off these days. They know how important lighting and heating is, especially in the cold
spells we've been having lately, and will not deprive people of such an essential.
In fact, just 636 electricity customers were cut off in the three months to last September and only 613 gas customers. But at the same time, that shows
they will act if you make no efforts to repay the money you owe. The average amount electricity customers owe is Â£258, while gas customers owe
Â£247, according to Ofgem.
Frighteningly, one in 10 gas and electricity customers in debt owes more than Â£600, which can be a frightening amount to try and repay.
But setting up a debt repayment schedule with your supplier is essential.
They shouldn't be unreasonable and should only ask you to repay what you can afford, such as a fiver a week.
Bear in mind that if you owed the a