Fewer than half of Brits would phone a friend to share their financial fears

Published on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 09:58
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

Fewer than half (42 per cent) of Brits would talk to family or friends if they were struggling to pay their bills, a new survey has found.

This is despite a third (34 per cent) of Brits having difficulties paying their fuel bills.

And while one in seven (14 per cent) would take a second job or do overtime to fuel their home JUST three per cent would investigate sources of help like an energy advice helpline.

The findings – part of a study of more than 2000 adults commissioned by the Energy Saving Trust – show that as a nation the middle is 'feeling the pinch' more than ever before. One in six Brits on salaries between £35,000 and £55,000 is struggling to pay their fuel bills.

According to the Energy Saving Trust GB householders can save on average £280 on their energy bills by taking simple energy efficient measures in the home, such as turning off electrical appliances when not in use. Collectively if we were all being energy efficient in the home the UK would save around £7.4 billion on energy bills.

EST chief executive Phillip Sellwood said: "Our survey shows that everyone is feeling the pinch – no matter whether their salary is £15,000 or £55,000. Our message is that taking short-term measures such as cutting out that lunchtime latte is not the answer – it's treating the symptoms but not the cause.

"Only three per cent say they'd do the right thing, which is seeking advice from a helpline. By treating the cause not the symptoms and being more energy efficient in the home householders can save on average £280 per year on their energy bill.

"There are still many free offers of help for loft and cavity wall insulation no matter what your income is!"

He added: "But our overriding concern is that those who are 'struggling in the dark' are not speaking to anyone about their fuel bill problems.

"We would encourage anyone who is having difficulty paying their utility bill this winter to call our independent energy advice line this week on 0300 123 1234 to see what short and long-term help they can get. We can advise on energy efficiency, as well as signposting householders to get help on dealing with debt and managing fuel bills.

"After you've helped yourself, make sure you check on your loved ones. Some vulnerable people are unaware of what they can do to help manage their fuel bills and don't know where to go for advice.
"Even if you have the slightest suspicion that a friend or family member is struggling, we would encourage people to direct them to the advice line for much needed support and guidance."

The survey was undertaken by pollsters Ipsos MORI between 28 September and 2 October 2012. Other findings include:

  • Almost one in five (19 per cent) of Brits fret about paying their fuel bills – more than mortgage (at 13 per cent the second biggest worry), childcare (one per cent), mobile (one per cent) and landline and broadband (one per cent) combined.
  • Three in 10 (29 per cent) feel under more pressure to help family or friends with their financial problems than two years ago.
  • Fourteen per cent of Brits pay more than £1500 on their fuel bills per year.
  • More than one in three (34 per cent) does NOT use online comparison sites to get the best deal for their fuel.
  • Thirty-seven per cent would lend money to friends or family experiencing financial troubles.
  • Thirty-five per cent of Brits have cut back on essential purchases such as eating out in an effort to pay their household energy bills.

Energy Saving Trust has devised three top tips for householders to cut energy-use straight away and help get them on their way to saving £280 per year.

These are:

Turn it off – Make sure you turn your lights, appliances and chargers off when you're not using them. If you turn a light off for even a few seconds, you will save more energy than it takes the light to start up again, no matter what sort of lights you have.  And virtually all electrical and electronic appliances can safely be turned off at the plug without upsetting their systems.

Turn it down – Many households have their central heating set higher than they need, without even realising it. Try turning your room thermostat down by one degree.  Every degree that you turn it down could make additional savings to your heating bill.

Insulate – The Government, energy suppliers and local authorities all provide grants to help insulate your home. Call the energy saving advice line on 0300 123 1234 for details about these grants and offers.

The survey results are released to mark Big Energy Saving Week, which is funded by the largest six energy companies, and involves Energy Saving Trust, Citizens Advice, Age UK, ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), Consumer Focus, the Government, Ofgem, Energy UK and National Energy Action.

To find out more visit the Big Energy Saving Week website or call 0300 123 1234.

In addition to Big Energy Saving Week, local communities looking to develop sustainable projects can get involved in the Big Lottery Fund's Awards for All scheme. Awards for All makes grants of between £300 and £10,000 to community groups across the UK for social and environmental projects that will benefit local communities and make a difference to the lives of those most in need. Funding can be used to help community groups with energy saving ideas such as the insulation of community buildings. To find out more, visit the Awards for All website.

Source: ©Energy Saving Trust


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