Reacting to the news that the average household energy bill will rise to £3,549 in October, StepChange Debt Charity says that lower income households already facing rising debt are going to need significantly more help from Government than the measures already announced before the confirmation of the latest price hike.
Phil Andrew, CEO of StepChange Debt Charity said:
"Energy companies are now the top referrers of clients into our charity, and the proportion of new clients with energy arrears has doubled since 2019. In July, a third of our new clients were in energy arrears – in summer, even before the October price rise takes effect, let alone the even higher price cap announced today. Unless more support is forthcoming, the proportion of clients with a negative budget could rise from around a third now, to over half once the January price cap takes effect.
"Household budgets are being pushed to the absolute limit and it’s inevitable this will lead to more people experiencing debt. The demand for debt advice is rising across the sector as the cost of living crisis bites. Many of our existing clients are also having to amend their arrangements as they can no longer afford their previous payments.
"The Government is going to need to step in with more support for those who simply can’t cope financially due to these enormous price hikes. The question is how best to target and deliver relief to those who need it – we continue to favour an early uprating of benefits, and additional ambitious support to meet the scale of the crisis that many households will face."