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5% of Brits have borrowed to pay energy bills

One in 20 people have had to borrow money to pay their energy bills, according to new research from the Debt Advisory Centre.

Some five per cent of Brits (the equivalent of 2.5 million) have had to take out a loan or use a credit card in order to settle their gas, electricity and water bills.

The rate was even higher in three parts of the UK. Some ten per cent of people living in the East Midlands said they'd borrowed to keep warm, while in Northern Ireland and London the rate was nine per cent and eight per cent respectively.

Ian Williams, the Debt Advisory Centre's director of communications, said the cost of gas and electricity has soared in the past few years and many people are now having to use their credit cards just to make ends meet each month.

He warned that unless a credit card balance is paid off in full, higher charges are likely to be applied and this can wipe out any savings made by being more prudent.

"The fact that so many people are having to borrow to meet their utility bills during the summer - when heating bills are usually lower - could signal real trouble approaching this winter," he said.

"Most of us need to borrow a little money from time to time, but borrowing to pay for essentials such as food and utilities could be a sign that you are struggling financially." 

Mr Williams added that anybody who is worried about being able to afford to heat their home this winter should contact their energy supplier for a solution, such as starting a payment plan or switching to a cheaper tariff.

Earlier this year, the website said that the best way to keep bills down is by installing cavity wall and loft insulation.

Posted by Helen Hughe