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Spine-chilling: Fifth of Brits will cut back on food to pay for heating

Posted 22 October 2014

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If you’re worried about how you’ll afford your heating bill this year, you’re not alone. Some people are considering drastic action to afford heating their home.


It’s that time of year again when the only thing we want to do in the evenings is shut the door on the elements and turn the heating up high. However, for some households this simply isn’t an option.


Baby it’s cold outside

The temperature has certainly dropped over the last few weeks, so it’s only natural if you’re thinking of turning up the thermostat. However, the cost of doing so may be putting you off.


In fact, a new survey* conducted for us has found that more than half of people in the UK are worried about how they will afford to heat their homes this winter … and some are even considering taking drastic action so they can afford to do so.


A worrying one in five respondents claimed they would cut back on their food spend so they have more to spend on heating their home. Meanwhile, one in eight claimed they would reprioritise their bills to free up some cash; perhaps by paying other important bills late or only in part. Most worrying of all, more than one in 20 respondents said they expected they would borrow money so they could pay their heating bill this winter.


Making a bad situation worse

The problem with borrowing to pay for the heating is that it could make an already difficult financial situation worse. Your heating is regarded as an essential bill, and if you’re having to rely on credit to afford it because you don’t have enough money otherwise, it could be a sign that you need help with your finances.


Similarly, cutting back on other essential expenses like food, or ignoring your other bills so you can afford the one for your heating, could add more pressure to your finances. Like heating, food is seen as an essential expense and is not something you should have to scrimp on, while if you ignore your other bills in favour of your heating, you could find they simply mount up and become harder to pay … and you might even be struck with fees for late payment.


Time to reprioritise

If you’re worried about how you’ll heat your home this year because you already have more financial commitments than you can handle as a result of unsecured debts you’re trying to pay back, it may be time to reprioritise. Unsecured lenders acknowledge that heating, food and other important household bills are priorities and need to be paid before you look to your other debts.


That’s not to say you should simply ignore these debts though. If you do this, you may find your lenders simply try to contact you more, and the interest and charges you have to pay on top of what you owe could pile up.


However, by talking to your lenders about your situation, you may be able to come to an arrangement … such as deciding on an amount you can afford to pay towards your debt each month while still having money for your other important outgoings. You can also talk to qualified debt advisors if you want more information on the action you could take and the debt solutions that are available.


You shouldn’t have to freeze this winter so why not consider getting help reprioritising your finances?


*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 24th September and 3rd October 2014. Figures have been extrapolated to fit ONS 2013 population projections of 64,105,700 UK adults.


by Sarah Symons

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