Another £145 hike to energy bills in October will leave 14.5m Brits in the dark and cold

18 March 2022, 00:01 | Updated: 18 March 2022, 00:11

Citizens Advice has warned 14.5m Brits won't be able to pay their bills by October
Citizens Advice has warned 14.5m Brits won't be able to pay their bills by October. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

A predicted £145-a-month hike to energy costs set to hit in October could see 14.5 million Brits unable to pay their energy bills, Citizens Advice has warned.

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The organisation say one in four UK adults will be unable to afford their bills - equivalent to 14.5 million people - is a massive jump from the five million who already say they cannot afford April's price increase of £60 a month, the charity, which included the Government's support measures in its calculations, said.

Two in five (41%) of those warning they will be pushed into debt next month said they had already borrowed money to pay for essentials.

The latest research found that 83% of those polled did not think the Government's £200 energy rebate, anticipated to be paid into customers' accounts in October and paid back over the following five years, would make a significant difference to their ability to pay their energy bills.

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People using prepayment meters - many of whom are already on low incomes - were set to be hardest hit by rising energy prices, the charity said, as they were less able to spread the cost of their energy throughout the year and were at greater risk of being disconnected if they could not afford to top up.

Rising energy costs could see an average family on a prepayment meter facing bills of £336 a month - more than £10 a day - in December, when the same usage would have cost them £147 in December 2021, the charity warned.

Citizens Advice chief executive Clare Moriarty said: "These staggering findings must be a wake-up call to the Government. With one in four unable to afford their bills come October, measures announced so far simply don't meet the scale of the challenge.

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"Parents shouldn't have to decide between giving their kids a hot bath or saving the money to buy them new school shoes.

"The Chancellor has a crucial opportunity to bring forward more support for those most in need in his Spring Statement next week.

"Increasing benefits in line with inflation, expanding the Warm Home Discount and announcing a more generous energy rebate should be top of his list."

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The findings come ahead of next week's Spring Statement, when the Chancellor has been urged to announce further support for families struggling to pay their bills.

Citizens Advice issued a 'red alert' warning last month as demand for its services soared, with its frontline staff helping record numbers access support such as food banks and one-off charitable grants amid the cost-of-living crisis.

In the last week alone, the charity said it had supported a woman who could not afford to top up her prepayment meter after a hospital visit meant she was left with nothing but spoiled food in the fridge and a parent who had to turn off their appliances and wash their children's clothes at their mother's house to save on energy costs.

It had also helped a woman in her 70s with a chronic health condition who had started wearing multiple layers and her duvet to keep warm as she could not afford to turn on her heating.

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