British households already owe a record £1.3 billion ($1.5 billion) to their energy suppliers ahead of winter, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing price-comparison service Uswitch.
Data showed that, as of July, the energy debts were more than double September’s level. Some 6.5 million households owe an average of £206 ($252) to providers, according to the service.
The report explained that each year since 2018, when a UK price cap was introduced, household debts have gradually fallen during summer. However, this year debt jumped by 10% between April and July as a result of soaring gas and power prices.
“Energy debt has hit an all-time high with the worst possible timing, turning this winter’s energy price hike into a deeply precarious situation for many households,” Justina Miltienyte, head of policy at Uswitch.com, told Bloomberg.
“The cost-of-living crisis is already squeezing budgets dramatically, even during the summer months, as families struggle with rising bills in all areas,” she added.
Earlier this year, energy suppliers warned about the huge number of customers falling behind on their bills. The situation has worsened since then as wholesale gas prices have more than doubled in the country, setting the stage for millions more to struggle to pay bills this winter.