Tackling your debts

1 in 4 Brits worried about how they’ll afford their next bill

Posted 08 September 2014

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<p>With a quarter of Brits worried about how they will afford their next energy bill, one in 10 have admitted they settled their last bill using either a loan or credit card.</p>

A quarter of people in the UK are worried about how they will make ends meet to afford their next gas, electricity or water bill.

New research* conducted on our behalf has revealed that one in four Brits have concerns about where the money for their next utility bill will come from … and some are already relying on credit to settle these expenses.

Utilities on credit

More than one in 10 respondents to the survey revealed that they have used either a credit card or loan to settle their energy or water bill in the last month. And while this is fewer than the number of people who said the same six months ago, it’s more than the number who claimed they’d had to do so this time last year.

When asked the same question in August 2013**, just 5% of survey respondents admitted that they had used credit so they could pay for their utilities that month. This means the number of Brits taking such action has doubled in 12 months.

Reassuringly though, it has also fallen substantially since six months ago***. Back in February 2014, 19% of respondents said they had paid for their utilities on credit. However, with Christmas not long gone, that time of year can often prove a stretch for the finances.

Getting your priorities in order

There are many reasons why people may feel they have no choice but to turn to credit as a way of settling their energy bills. The bill they receive may be larger than they had budgeted for, or their circumstances might have changed meaning they don’t have the cash available to settle the debt.

Another reason might be that they are prioritising paying other debts above their utilities, and so using credit to cover the latter. However, energy and water are regarded as essential expenses and there is little that should be prioritised above them.

Help is available

If this sounds like a familiar story to you, it might be worth seeking advice. If you have unsecured debts you’re struggling to repay, and have started to let your other financial commitments slide as a result, it could be worth getting professional help to get things back in order.

Our expert advisors can offer help and support with your finances, and can also provide you with information on the different debt solutions available. You’re under no obligation to start one of these solutions, but it could provide the route you need to get back in control of your finances.

*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 12th August and 23rd August 2014, of whom 630 were Scottish.

**Consumer Intelligence research carried out a survey of a representative sample of 2,202 UK adults from 31st July - 05th August 2013.

***OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 1,822 adults aged 18 and over between 25th February and 7th March 2014.

by Shelley Bowers

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.