More than 40 per cent struggled to pay energy bills even before price cap increase

More than 40 per cent of people said they were struggling to pay their energy bills even before the price cap increase, as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.

A survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that 43 per cent of those who pay energy bills said of was “very or somewhat difficult” to afford them in March.

This was while 22 million households in Britain still had their energy bills capped at £1,277 per year for the average household.

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The cap rose to £1,971 on April 1 and has been applied to most default tariffs.

File photo dated 06/01/15 of money in a piggy bank

In the most deprived parts of England 57 per cent of people reported difficulty in paying energy bills, but even in the least deprived areas of the country, 35 per cent struggled.

The same research found that nearly a quarter of people (23 per cent) said it was difficult to pay their bills last month compared to the same time in 2021.

This is up from 17 per cent who said the same thing less than six months ago in November.

Jack Leslie, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The combination of shrinking pay packets and rising costs means that the pressure on households is building, with lower-income families set to feel the squeeze the most, and over a third of the most deprived fifth of households in England already saying it has been difficult or very difficult to pay their usual bills.

“This is set to get worse, with the estimated number of households experiencing fuel stress hitting five million this month.

“Going forwards, the Government must do all it can to protect those who will be hardest hit – with support for low-income households a priority.”