More than three million households say their finances are stretched so tight that they could not cope with any increase in their bills — two days before the energy price cap rise is expected to be announced, according to research by Uswitch.com, the comparison and switching service.
On Friday (5 February), Ofgem will reveal how the default and prepayment energy price cap will change from 1 April. Experts expect the price cap to increase due to rising wholesale energy costs and to allow providers to cope with missed customer payments caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Energy customers are already feeling the strain, with households estimating that their power usage is 8% higher than this time last year due to spending more time at home during lockdown.
More than one in ten (11%) consumers say they could not cope if household bills were to increase, while over a quarter of bill-payers (27%) warn they would be forced into debt if their expenses rose by just £10 a month or less.
Customers on Standard Variable Tariffs (SVTs) and prepayment meters will be directly affected by an increase in the price cap.
More than half of households (53%) on SVTs and prepayment meters are stressed by the thought of the price cap rising and fear they won’t be able to pay all their bills or will have less money to spend on other things.
Almost three in ten people on prepayment meters (29%) say they regularly worry about paying their household bills, while 12% of people on SVTs have the same concern.