30th September 2013
Some 2.5 million people borrowed money using a credit card or taking out a loan to pay for gas, electricity and water bills in July according to the Debt Advisory Centre.
Those aged 25-34, along with people aged 35-44, were also most likely (8% of each group) to have borrowed to pay utility bills. High percentages of people in the East Midlands (10%), Northern Ireland (9%) and London (8%) had borrowed to pay their gas, electricity or water bills while one in ten in the North East and Scotland said they had used credit to buy food.
Ian Williams of the Debt Advisory Centre said: “The cost of food, gas and electricity has soared over the past few years. Many people use credit cards to buy food every day – sometimes to benefit from loyalty schemes and sometimes just to make ends meet. But unless you pay off your credit card balance in full every month, you are likely to be paying high charges on every pound you borrow. This could easily wipe out any savings you make by shopping carefully.
“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. 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.
“If you are having problems making your money stretch, try using a budget planner such as the one on the Debt Advisory Centre to work out where your money is going and how you can cut costs.”
“And if you are worried you won’t be able to afford to heat your home this winter or are struggling to pay bills, contact your provider to explain the situation and see if they can offer you a cheaper tariff or agree a plan to spread the payments. If that doesn’t help, then you should seek expert advice.”