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Tackling your debts

Do you have to use credit to pay your bills?

Posted 04 April 2014

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<p>Have you ever relied on credit to settle an energy bill? If you’ve done this in order to prioritise your debt repayments, it might be time to seek help.</p>


We’ve all had those moments when the electricity or gas bill has popped through the letterbox at the absolute worst time. However, if you regularly have to settle your utility bills by using your credit card or with a loan, it could be a sign your finances are becoming unmanageable.

You’re not alone


If you’ve had to borrow money to pay for your essential utilities recently, you’re not alone. A survey* we had carried out for us revealed that nearly one in five people in the UK paid for their water, electricity or gas using credit last month.

Men are more likely to borrow to pay for their energy bills than women, with more than a fifth of UK men compared to just under 17% of women doing this last month. Meanwhile, the age group most likely to pay these bills using credit are 25 to 34-year-olds … who are also the most likely to have taken their first steps on the property ladder and/or started families.


Of course, when you’re running a busy household and have plenty of hungry mouths to feed, it’s no wonder it feels like a balancing act making sure everything is covered. However, heating, hot water, electricity and water are all classed as essential living costs … and if you have to borrow to pay for them it could be cause for concern.


Getting your priorities straight


There are all sorts of reasons why you may have had to pay your energy bills using some form of credit before. Perhaps you overspent that month, you didn’t budget correctly or you just hadn’t predicted how large the bill would be. But it’s one thing if this was a one-off situation, and quite another if you’re regularly borrowing so you can settle your bills.


It might be that the reason you’re using credit to pay for your utilities so often is that you think paying off your debts is more of a priority. Clearing your debts is certainly important, but no one … not even your lenders … would see it as more of a priority than heating your home, or ensuring you have running water.

Getting help


When you owe money to several different lenders, it can be difficult keeping track of it all … especially when you throw your other financial commitments, like utility bills, into the mix. Another thing about being in debt is that it can be incredibly isolating, and you may feel as though you simply don’t know where to turn for help.


However, you don’t have to cope with debt alone. Rather than ignoring it … which could allow the debt to increase to an amount that’s completely unmanageable … you can speak to someone like us. We’ll provide you with advice and support, and see if there’s a way that your debt repayments can be made easier to keep on top of.


Most importantly, we’ll always treat your energy bills as a priority, so you shouldn’t have to borrow more to pay them. Speak to one of our advisors today, and let’s see how we can help.


*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 1,822 adults aged 18 and over between 25th February and 7th March 2014. Figures have been extrapolated to fit ONS 2013 population projections of 50,371,000 UK adults.

by Sarah Symons

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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.