Nearly half of Brits find it difficult to afford their energy bills

ONS data reveals 43% of households struggled with household bills in March

businesswoman sitting reading bills with a baby boy
(Image credit: getty images)

Almost a quarter of Britons are struggling to pay household bills as rising living costs start to bite, according to official stats from the Office for National Statistics (opens in new tab) (ONS).

The results are of little surprise as millions have seen their energy bills increase dramatically since the start of April when the energy price cap rose 54%. Other household costs have soared such as food prices, rail costs and tax bills.

According to the report, 23% of adults said it was difficult or very difficult to pay their usual household bills in the last month. The starkest aspect of the data revealed that gas and electricity was the biggest concern, with four in 10 (43%) saying that it was somewhat or very difficult to afford their energy bills during March.

Worryingly, 17% of adults reported borrowing more money or using more credit in March than they did a year ago.

Overall, the survey found that nine out of 10 adults (87%) have seen a rise in the cost of living during March. This is an increase of 25 percentage points when compared with last November’s survey when around six in 10 (62%) said the same.

If you are struggling to pay your energy bill, there may be help, which we explain in our article on 'Help with energy costs: Grants and benefits to support you with rising gas and electricity bills’. For targeted support there’s customer support schemes - or hardship funds - offered by energy suppliers. For help with broadband, you could be  eligible for cheaper social tariffs available from selected broadband providers.
Worried about food costs? See what the supermarkets are doing to help.

Katie is staff writer at The Money Edit. She was the former staff writer at The Times and The Sunday Times. Her experience includes writing about personal finance, culture, travel and interviews celebrities.  Her investigative work on financial abuse resulted in a number of mortgage prisoners being set free - and a nomination for the Best Personal Finance Story of the Year in the Headlinemoney awards 2021.