UK: Record unpaid electricity bills hit £1.3bn

UK: Record unpaid electricity bills hit £1.3bn

The cost of living has skyrocketed in the UK. According to comparison site Uswitch, unpaid electricity bills through the channel have tripled to £1.3 billion in a year, a record. That debt is expected to continue rising as electricity tariffs continue to rise significantly in the coming months, Uswitch said in a statement released on Wednesday.

The British energy price regulator Ofgem will announce an increase in the energy price cap on August 26th. It’s expected to rise from £1,971 a year to £3,358 a year for an average household in the UK, Uswitch estimates, due to rising energy prices. Analysts at specialist firm Cornwall Insight expect further increases to this cap in October, January and April, which they could then increase to £4,427.

Inflation soon to 13%

“It’s an alarming situation,” says Justina Miltienyte, a Uswitch manager. She is calling on electric companies to help households unable to pay their bills “to find a solution, particularly offering more affordable payment plans” and advises struggling households to seek the help that may be available to them.

In the midst of the election campaigns of Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, the two Conservative candidates to succeed Boris Johnson at Downing Street, Justina Miltienyte is also urging the government to increase its aid to vulnerable households. According to the Bank of England, UK inflation could top 13% in October, a record high since late 1980, after having already reached 9.4% over the year in June, mainly due to rising energy prices.

“Don’t Pay Britain”

An anonymous campaign entitled “Don’t pay UK” has been launched with nearly 100,000 participants, demanding that energy bills be reduced to “affordable levels” or a “strike” threatened to pay electricity bills from October 1st. Finance Minister Nadhim Zahawi and Energy, Industry and Economy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng will hold an emergency meeting with energy chiefs on Thursday to ask them to find ways to cushion rising energy price caps this winter.

Stunning half-year profits from energy giants like Shell, BP and Centrica, parent company of British Gas, have recently rocked the UK, where millions of low-income households face a choice between eating and heating next winter.