“Worst possible time” to increase energy bills, as debts reach £2.6 billion
National Debtline calls on Government for a ‘Help to Repay’ scheme to support households with unaffordable arrears
The charity behind National Debtline has today called for urgent support for households with energy arrears, as Ofgem figures show energy debts have reached a record £2.6 billion.
As Ofgem plans to raise bills by £17 per customer, the charity behind National Debtline says the Government must instead step up and create a Help to Repay scheme for people struggling to repay their energy arrears.
More than four in ten (41 percent) of callers to National Debtline, the free debt advice service run by the Money Advice Trust, have incomes that are too low to cover their essential costs, including energy.
David Cheadle, acting chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said:
“Sustained high energy costs have had a devasting impact on the finances of many people we help at National Debtline and today’s figures reveal the scale of the problem.
“With energy debt at a record high, now is the worst possible time to increase bills further, as Ofgem is proposing.
“Instead, the Government must step in and act now to help households facing unaffordable debt repayments by introducing a ‘Help to Repay scheme to offer payment matching and write-off.
“Doing so would help tackle the record levels of energy debt we are now seeing, without the need to increase energy bills for all customers.
“Anyone who is worried about paying their energy costs should seek free, independent advice as soon as possible. Our advisers at National Debtline are there to help and can take you through your options.”
National Debtline provides free, independent debt advice on 0808 808 4000 and at www.nationaldebtline.org