Local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop has today (10th April 2013) warned that the ‘cost of living is a crisis that is growing under David Cameron’s leadership’ as figures revealed by energy comparison site, uSwitch, showed that more than five million households are in debt to their energy supplier after falling behind with payments.
Collectively, Britons are estimated to owe £637m to energy firms – £159m more than last year’s projections – and 20% of bill payers surveyed by the website are in debt to their energy supplier, this figure is up from 14% when similar research was carried out last year.
According to the website, the average annual household energy bill has risen by almost £100 in the space of a year and the typical bill now stands at £1,353 a year, which is around £830 higher than it was in 2004.
“These figures will not come as a surprise to many of my constituents who are struggling with recent energy price hikes whilst their wages remain stagnant but inflation rises. The numbers are soaring and should be a clear indication to the Prime Minister that people are struggling to meet the costs of their basic bills.
“I dread to think where people will turn as their debts mount up. In hard times, it is no wonder people turn to payday lenders and loansharks, but often they just engulf people in more debt that they cannot pay at often extortionate interest rates of over 1,000%.
“The public want a simple and affordable scheme so they can improve their home and cut their energy bills, yet the Government’s flagship policy, the Green Deal, is complex and costly. The sky high interest rates associated with the scheme mean consumers could end up paying more in interest payments more on charges than for the energy efficiency measures themselves.
“To make sure people are paying a fair price for the energy they use, we need a radical overhaul of the energy market. We need to open up the market so that there is more competition – breaking the dominance of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies – and protecting vulnerable customers from being ripped off.”