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Relief for millions but “serious damage already done” by soaring bills

Money Advice Trust responds to the government’s energy bill support

Posted September 8, 2022

The Money Advice Trust has welcomed the Government’s announcement of support to tackle high energy bills for households and small businesses but has warned that the impact of high prices has already taken its toll on many people, particularly those on low incomes.

New research commissioned by the Money Advice Trust has found that one in nine UK adults (11 percent) said their energy supplier had already increased their monthly payments to a level they could not afford.

A significant proportion of callers to the charity’s National Debtline service do not have enough money coming in to cover essential costs – 45 percent have a deficit budget, up from 37 percent of callers in 2021.

Joanna Elson CBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said:

“Today’s welcome new capping of energy bills will provide much-needed relief for the millions of people worried about how to afford future increases.

“For millions of households, however, serious damage has already been done. The combination of high energy prices and rising food and fuel costs has left many facing impossible choices. Our debt advisers are hearing from people skipping meals and not turning on their electricity to try and get by.

“Although bills won’t now rise to as extreme levels, they remain high and are still difficult to afford for many, particularly people on low incomes. The next steps should include uprating benefits so that they keep pace with inflation and for Ofgem and energy suppliers to increase protections for people who do fall behind this winter.

“The new six month support scheme for small businesses is welcome – but with many facing unaffordable costs already, these challenges will remain for some time.

“Anyone worried about their finances should contact a free debt advice service, like National Debtline or Business Debtline.”

Alongside StepChange Debt Charity and Citizens Advice, the Money Advice Trust has called on the energy regulator Ofgem to increase protections for people in or at risk of energy arrears. The charities full set of recommendations are outlined in ‘Rising energy prices: Protecting energy customers in debt’ briefing.

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