Sharon McDougall - 14th October 2021 - 2 minutes to read
There could be a big rise in the scale of fuel debt in Scotland next year as consumers struggle to keep up payments on their energy bills.
That’s the view of the Energy Consumers Commission (ECC), which is worried about the potential for rising energy bills to add significantly to the debt problems faced by millions of Scottish households.
Turbulence within wholesale gas and electricity prices in recent weeks means that the prices paid by consumers for their energy supplies are expected to increase dramatically in 2022.
That in itself will add financial pressure to household budgets next year but the ECC is also concerned about what it calls the “hidden danger” of issues around fuel debt.
“People racking up debt with their supplier because of price increases could lead to a scenario of further pain down the road, as debt repayments are added to bills,” explained Lewis Shand Smith, chair of the ECC.
“This risk is particularly acute in Scotland’s rural communities, with higher levels of fuel poverty in the first place,” he added.
The ECC was created in 2020 by the Scottish government to help ensure that consumers are represented in conversations relating to energy prices and supply issues.
Fuel debt is an issue that the commission wants to see taken more seriously and its representatives have called for a much greater degree of transparency among energy suppliers about how many of its customers are in debt to them in different parts of the country.
The ECC also insists that energy suppliers should be better at advising their customers about how to deal with their situation if they’re struggling to pay their bills or their debts.
“We need more transparency around fuel debt for consumers,” Mr Shand Smith has said.
“Suppliers should also do more to warn people at risk of debt, and signpost to advice services so consumers can get help quickly,” he added.
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