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Chart

Source: Vulnerability report 2017.

Information correct as of: October 2017

This chart shows the average amount of debt owed by domestic customers who are in arrears, but do not yet have a debt repayment arrangement set up between Q3 2012 and Q2 2017. Improvements to how we collect information about average debt mean that it is not possible to make comparisons between data provided by suppliers before and after Q3 (July-Sept) 2012.

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Average debt level where there is no arrangement to repay the debt (arrears)

GasElectricity
Q3 2012445440
Q4 2012433439
Q1 2013452433
Q2 2013489450
Q3 2013490466
Q4 2013466460
Q1 2014472473
Q2 2014489495
Q3 2014484503
Q4 2014481512
Q1 2015512532
Q2 2015555560
Q3 2015554573
Q4 2015536584
Q1 2016558587
Q2 2016558581
Q3 2016534568
Q4 2016510570
Q1 2017552594
Q2 2017553602

More information

At-a-glance summary

The level of debt owed by domestic customers in arrears (who do not yet have a debt repayment arrangement set up) has generally risen since we started collecting data in Q1 2012 onwards. It peaked in Q2 2017 for gas and Q2 2016 for electricity.

The increase in the average debt is at least in part due to the continuing reductions in the number of customers in debt, which is largely among customers with lower levels of debt. We will continue to monitor this closely.

Relevance and further information

There continues to be a seasonal pattern to energy debt. Debt generally falls towards the end of the year, when customers who pay quarterly are billed for the warmer months. It then rises in the spring when customers who pay quarterly fall into arrears following higher energy usage during the winter months. This seasonal trend is more pronounced with gas, most likely due to the importance of gas heating during winter.

Methodology

A customer is in arrears if they have not paid a bill for longer than 91 days/13 weeks, and there is no formal arrangement to repay the debt. It excludes any costs for subsequent consumption. This will include customers who are billed in arrears for ongoing consumption, and direct debit customers who have fallen into debt by defaulting on one or more payments. It should exclude customers who have begun the transition to a formal debt repayment arrangement, but have not yet started repaying their debt.

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Chart

Source: Vulnerability report 2017.

Information correct as of: October 2017

This chart shows the total number of domestic gas and electricity customers who are in arrears, but have no debt repayment arrangement between Q3 2012 and Q2 2017. We only hold data related to debts that are being repaid for the period prior to quarter three 2012.

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Number of accounts in arrears where there is no arrangement to repay the debt

Gas Electricity
Q3 2012399,183464,197
Q4 2012392,384457,853
Q1 2013407,462495,902
Q2 2013446,920522,363
Q3 2013453,115520,274
Q4 2013445,163513,438
Q1 2014432,850496,390
Q2 2014472,533547,855
Q3 2014472,440567,525
Q4 2014438,342545,789
Q1 2015419,614532,988
Q2 2015434,797538,021
Q3 2015421,286518,367
Q4 2015401,141483,948
Q1 2016378,416476,224
Q2 2016402,372499,547
Q3 2016409,539525,846
Q4 2016388,287508,349
Q1 2017377,136507,734
Q2 2017412,728539,716

More information

At-a-glance summary

Customers in arrears are customers who owe a debt to their supplier, but do not yet have a debt repayment arrangement in place. The number of customers in arrears has grown slowly from when we started collecting data in 2012, to a peak in 2014 (at over 2% of electricity and gas customers). Since then it has decreased slowly, and, in Q1 2016, it reached its lowest level for gas customers since we started collecting data. In Q2 2017 1.9% of electricity customers and 1.8% of gas customers were in arrears.

Relevance and further information

There continues to be a seasonal pattern to energy debt. Debt generally falls towards the end of the year, when customers that pay quarterly are billed for the warmer months. It then rises in the spring when customers that pay quarterly fall into arrears following higher energy usage during the winter months.

Suppliers are required to offer domestic customers struggling to pay their electricity and/or gas bills a range of payment options:

  • Payment by regular instalments through means other than a PPM (for example, direct debit)
  • Payment by direct deductions from social security benefits received by the customer (such as Fuel Direct or Universal Credit)
  • Payment through a PPM, where this is safe and reasonably practical.

Suppliers need to focus on preventing debt as much as they do on managing and recovering debt. Providing accurate, clear and regular bills and making early contact with customers can prevent customers accumulating debt. Suppliers have an obligation at this stage to provide energy efficiency information to customers in financial difficulties.

Methodology

These are accounts that have had a bill issued which remains unpaid for longer than 91 days/13 weeks where a formal arrangement to repay the debt has not been agreed. 

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Chart

Javascript is required to render chart Number of accounts with a consumer repaying an energy debt.

Source: Vulnerability report 2017.

Information correct as of: October 2017

This chart shows the number of domestic gas and electricity customers per thousand accounts who are repaying a debt to their supplier between Q1 2006 and Q2 2017. 

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Number of accounts with a consumer repaying an energy debt

GasElectricity
Q1 20069771,262
Q2 200611931,304
Q3 20069601,319
Q4 20067861,208
Q1 20079171,294
Q2 200710371,341
Q3 20079591,341
Q4 20077851,293
Q1 20087691,004
Q2 20088221,025
Q3 2008709980
Q4 2008646952
Q1 20098731,139
Q2 20099641,173
Q3 20099181,089
Q4 20097261,006
Q1 2010673910
Q2 2010838989
Q3 2010839953
Q4 2010711854
Q1 2011731866
Q2 2011864921
Q3 2011811870
Q4 2011691779
Q1 2012730799
Q2 2012868940
Q3 2012829930
Q4 2012802901
Q1 2013885982
Q2 20131,0021,034
Q3 20131,0121,046
Q4 20139361,017
Q1 2014837902
Q2 2014836899
Q3 2014808874
Q4 2014759840
Q1 2015716799
Q2 2015727798
Q3 2015703777
Q4 2015654745
Q1 2016654754
Q2 2016636722
Q3 2016617710
Q4 2016577681
Q1 2017567673
Q2 2017569672

More information

At-a-glance summary

This chart shows the number of domestic customers who are repaying a debt to their supplier on their gas or electricity account. This has fallen from around 5% in 2006 to around 2.5% in 2017.

Relevance and further information

The number of customer accounts repaying an energy debt has been decreasing since 2006, when nearly 5% of electricity customers and over 4.5% of gas customers were repaying a debt. There was a a peak in Q2 and Q3 2013, but the downward trend continued after this, reaching around 670,000 customers for electricity (2.4%) and 570,000 customers for gas (2.7%). The seasonal effects that were present up to 2013, whereby there was a drop in Q4/Q1 and a rise in Q2/Q3 has become almost insignificant since 2014, which is likely to be due to the reduction in the number of customers paying quarterly.

Methodology

This data reports the number of customers who have a debt repayment arrangement with their supplier on the last day of the quarter. These are customers who have entered a formal arrangement with their supplier to repay outstanding debts, including all prepayment (PPM) customers repaying a debt, and non-PPM customers on debt repayment arrangements extending beyond 91 days/13 weeks. It does not include those customers with a debit at the end of a payment scheme that will be rolled into a new payment scheme or those who have had their payments increased because previous payments were set too low. All customers on payment schemes (including direct debit) are excluded once the initial debt has been repaid.

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Chart

Javascript is required to render chart Number of disconnections for non-payment of debt.

Source: Vulnerability report 2017.

Information correct as of: October 2017

This chart shows the total number of domestic gas and electricity customers disconnected for non-payment of debt between Q1 2006 and Q2 2017.

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Number of disconnections for non-payment of debt

ElectricityGas
Q1 2006213723
Q2 2006226864
Q3 20063621,112
Q4 20064571,157
Q1 20075441,389
Q2 20075821,538
Q3 20076721,462
Q4 20078591,338
Q1 20086981,003
Q2 2008918810
Q3 2008626571
Q4 2008474280
Q1 2009698226
Q2 2009794573
Q3 2009636613
Q4 2009543382
Q1 2010443151
Q2 2010794311
Q3 2010685305
Q4 20106646
Q1 20114420
Q2 2011375146
Q3 2011419128
Q4 20118335
Q1 2012132
Q2 201213833
Q3 201219351
Q4 201210918
Q1 2013709
Q2 201316229
Q3 201326840
Q4 2013566
Q1 201400
Q2 20143112
Q3 201415929
Q4 201420
Q1 201521
Q2 20156320
Q3 201513427
Q4 201551
Q1 201611
Q2 20166831
Q3 20168820
Q4 201601
Q1 201700
Q2 2017120

More information

At-a-glance summary

There has been a long term reduction in the number of domestic customers disconnected for debt. Between Q3 2016 and Q2 2017 the number of disconnections for non-payment of debt decreased to 121 for gas and increased for electricity from 249 to 268 disconnections in the same period the previous year. There is a seasonal effect with fewer disconnections between October and March.

Relevance and further information

Disconnecting a customer’s energy supply should always be a last resort and avoided wherever possible. SLC 27 prohibits suppliers from disconnecting pensioners during winter (October to March), and requires suppliers to take all reasonable steps to avoid disconnecting premises that include any pensioners, disabled or chronically sick customers in winter. Suppliers must not disconnect anyone whose debt they have not taken all reasonable steps to recover first by using a PPM.

Members of Energy UK also adhere to a voluntary code of practice known as the ‘Safety Net’. Among other protections, signatories have committed to not disconnecting customers in vulnerable situations at any time of year and to reconnecting customers who are subsequently identified as vulnerable as a priority and usually within 24 hours. Compliance with the Safety Net is independently audited. Further information about the code can be found on Energy UK’s website.

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Chart

Source: Vulnerability report 2017.

Information correct as of: October 2017

This chart shows the proportion of domestic gas and electricity customers repaying a debt who are paying via a prepayment meter (PPM) between Q1 2011 and Q2 2017.

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

The proportion of customers repaying a debt to their supplier using a prepayment meter (PPM) (%)

ElectricityGas
Q1 201141%40%
Q2 201140%36%
Q3 201140%40%
Q4 201141%46%
Q1 201236%43%
Q2 2012 32%38%
Q3 2012 35%38%
Q4 2012 37%41%
Q1 201335%37%
Q2 201334%33%
Q3 201334%35%
Q4 201335%37%
Q1 201439%40%
Q2 201439%41%
Q3 201439%43%
Q4 201440%44%
Q1 201539%43%
Q2 201539%42%
Q3 201538%41%
Q4 201539%43%
Q1 201638%41%
Q2 201639%41%
Q3 201639%42%
Q4 201640%43%
Q1 201738%42%
Q2 201739%42%

More information

At-a-glance summary

The proportion of domestic customers repaying debt who are paying via a prepayment meter has stayed broadly static in the last three years. Gas customers continue to be more likely to repay a debt via a PPM than electricity customers.

Relevance and further information

On 1 April 2017 we introduced a cap on the amount suppliers can charge a domestic PPM customer. Suppliers must set their prepayment prices at or beneath this level. PPM customers have fewer competitive tariff choices and are exposed to the risk of self-disconnection. Since the PPM cap, prices for PPM tariffs have become more competitive with other payment methods.

Methodology

When a customer falls into debt, suppliers must always offer them a range of debt repayment options – including the option to repay via a PPM – to customers. If no payment arrangement is agreed, suppliers may obtain a warrant to install a PPM to secure payment for ongoing energy use and debt repayments. This must be a last resort to avoid disconnecting the customer. A debt repayment arrangement is an arrangement to repay debts which lasts more than 91 days/13 weeks.

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Chart

Source: Vulnerability report 2017.

Information correct as of: October 2017

This chart shows the average amount of debt owed by domestic customers who have a debt repayment arrangement set up between Q3 2012 and Q2 2017. Improvements to how we collect information about average debt mean that it is not possible to make comparisons between data provided by suppliers before and after Q3 (July-Sept) 2012.

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Average level of debt remaining where there is an arrangement to repay the debt

GasElectricity
Q3 2012325314
Q4 2012313304
Q1 2013334312
Q2 2013341316
Q3 2013334312
Q4 2013323306
Q1 2014346342
Q2 2014360348
Q3 2014368354
Q4 2014382355
Q1 2015375355
Q2 2015389366
Q3 2015386375
Q4 2015382384
Q1 2016388390
Q2 2016408417
Q3 2016407421
Q4 2016410427
Q1 2017415430
Q2 2017419438

More information

At-a-glance summary

There has been an increasing trend in the average level of remaining debt for domestic customers who have a debt repayment arrangement. In the last few quarters the debt for electricity and gas customers has continued to rise at a steady rate from Q2 2016 to Q2 2017, reaching £419 in gas and £438 in electricity. Q4 2015 was the first time since we started collecting data that the average level of remaining debt for electricity surpassed that for gas.

Methodology

This is a snapshot figure of the average debt that remained outstanding on the last day of the reporting period for customers repaying a debt. It only includes the outstanding amount of debt that the customer is paying as part of a repayment plan and does not include any debt incurred for consumption since the start of the repayment plan.

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Chart

Source: Vulnerability report 2017.

Information correct as of: October 2017

This chart shows electricity suppliers’ disconnections for debt per ten thousand customers in debt from Q3 2016 to Q2 2017. Only suppliers that disconnected customers for debt during this period are shown on the graph.

For the number of customers disconnected see the ‘more information’ tab.

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Electricity suppliers: Disconnections for debt per 10,000 customers (GB)

SupplierDisconnections per 10,000 customers in debt
Green Energy60
Utility Warehouse22
Ecotricity12
npower7
SSE2

More information

At–a-glance summary

Between Q3 2016 and Q2 2017, six suppliers disconnected domestic electricity customers due to debt (100 disconnections in total).  Only suppliers that disconnected customers for debt during this period are shown.

The number of customers disconnected at each supplier between July 2016 and June 2017 was:

  • npower – 70
  • SSE – 15
  • Utility Warehouse – 12
  • Green Energy – 1
  • E.ON -1
  • Ecotricity - 1

Relevance and further information

Disconnecting a customer’s energy supply should always be a last resort and avoided wherever possible. SLC 27 prohibits suppliers from disconnecting pensioners during winter, and requires suppliers to take all reasonable steps to avoid disconnecting premises that include any pensioners, disabled or chronically sick customers in winter. Suppliers must not disconnect anyone whose debt they have not taken all reasonable steps to recover first by using a PPM.

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Chart

Source: Vulnerability report 2017.

Information correct as of: October 2017

This chart shows the average weekly debt repayment rates for customers who had a domestic electricity prepayment meter (PPM) installed to repay debt during the period between July 2016 and June 2017 (Q3 2016 – Q2 2017).

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Electricity prepayment meter customers: Average weekly debt repayment rates (GB)

Average weekly debt repayment rates for PPM customers (electricity), Q3 2016 to Q2 2017
Co-operative Energy14.60
Ovo Energy7.94
E.ON7.07
Spark Energy6.82
npower6.34
Scottish Power6.17
First Utility5.94
British Gas5.69
Utility Warehouse5.64
EDF Energy5.59
SSE5.02
Bristol Energy5.00
Utilita3.13

More information

At-a-glance summary

This chart shows the average weekly debt repayment rates for customers who had a domestic electricity PPM installed to repay debt between July 2016 and June 2017 (Q3 2016 – Q2 2017). The average weekly debt repayment rate ranged between £3.13 per week to £14.60 per week. For the majority of suppliers, the average was between £5 and £8.

Note: Only suppliers who had PPM customers repaying a debt during at least one of the four quarters are shown on the graph. For each supplier shown on the graph, we have calculated a weighted average of the last four quarters based on the total number of new PPM installs for debt for each supplier in the four quarters.

Relevance and further information

Suppliers must offer the customer an option to pay for their electricity and gas through a PPM to recover debt where it is safe and reasonably practicable in all circumstances for the customer to do so.

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Chart

Source: Vulnerability report 2017.

Information correct as of: October 2017

This chart shows the average weekly debt repayment rates for customers who had a domestic gas prepayment meter (PPM) installed to repay debt during the period between July 2016 and June 2017 (Q3 2016 – Q2 2017).

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Gas prepayment meter customers: Average weekly debt repayment rates (GB)

Average weekly debt repayment rates for PPM customers (gas), Q3 2016 to Q2 2017
Co-operative Energy14.73
Spark Energy10.00
Ovo Energy6.95
Scottish Power6.77
Zog Energy6.76
E.ON6.37
npower6.13
First Utility5.93
EDF Energy5.78
British Gas5.58
Utility Warehouse5.01
Better Energy5.00
Good Energy5.00
SSE4.96
utilita3.16
Robin Hood Energy1.00

More information

At-a-glance summary

This chart shows the average weekly debt repayment rates for customers who had a domestic gas PPM installed to repay debt between July 2016 and June 2017 (Q3 2016 – Q2 2017). The average weekly debt repayment rate ranged between £1.00 per week and £14.73 per week, with the majority being between £5 and £7.

Note: Only suppliers who had PPM customers repaying a debt during at least one of the four quarters are shown on the graph. For each supplier shown on the graph, we have calculated a weighted average of the last four quarters based on the total number of new PPM installs for debt for each supplier in the four quarters.

Relevance and further information

Suppliers must offer the customer an option to pay for their electricity and gas through a PPM to recover debt where it is safe and reasonably practicable in all circumstances for the customer to do so.

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Chart

Source: Vulnerability report 2017.

Information correct as of: October 2017

This chart shows the average number of weeks customers were given to repay their debt if they had a domestic electricity PPM installed to repay debt between July 2016 and June 2017 (Q3 2016 – Q2 2017).

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Electricity prepayment (PPM) customers: Average length of debt repayment plans agreed (GB)

Average length of debt repayment arrangements agreed for PPM customers (electricity), Q3 2016 to Q2 2017
Spark Energy391
LoCO2 Energy257
Utility Warehouse213
First Utility202
Good Energy197
EDF Energy195
npower164
Scottish Power152
SSE152
E.ON131
Green Energy115
Co-operative Energy107
Ecotricity86
British Gas84
Bristol Energy61
utilita48
Ovo Energy45
Robin Hood Energy1

More information

At-a-glance summary

This chart shows the average number of weeks customers were given to repay their debt if they had a domestic electricity PPM installed to repay debt between July 2016 and June 2017 (Q3 2016 – Q2 2017). The average number of weeks that customers were given to repay their debt ranged from 1 to 391 weeks.

Note: Only suppliers who had PPM customers repaying a debt during at least one of the four quarters are shown on the graph. For each supplier shown on the graph, we have calculated a weighted average of the last four quarters based on the total number of new PPM installs for debt for each supplier in the four quarters.

Relevance

Suppliers must offer the customer an option to pay for their electricity and gas through a PPM to recover debt where it is safe and reasonably practicable in all circumstances for the customer to do so.

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Chart

Source: Vulnerability report 2017.

Information correct as of: October 2017

This chart shows the average number of weeks customers were given to repay their debt if they had a domestic gas PPM installed to repay debt between July 2016 and June 2017 (Q3 2016 – Q2 2017).

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Gas prepayment (PPM) customers: Average length of debt repayment plans agreed (GB)

SupplierAverage length of debt repayment arrangements agreed for PPM customers (gas), Q3 2016 - Q2 2017
Better Energy199
EDF Energy167
Utility Warehouse164
npower154
First Utility151
Scottish Power144
Spark Energy144
SSE122
E.ON116
Co-operative Energy106
British Gas97
Zog Energy79
Ecotricity73

More information

At–a-glance summary

This chart shows the average number of weeks customers were given to repay their debt if they had a domestic gas PPM installed to repay debt between July 2016 and June 2017 (Q3 2016 – Q2 2017). The average number of weeks that customers were given to repay their debt ranged from 73 to 199 weeks.

Note: Only suppliers who had PPM customers repaying a debt during at least one of the four quarters are shown on the graph. For each supplier shown on the graph, we have calculated a weighted average of the last four quarters based on the total number of new PPMs installed for debt for each supplier in the four quarters.

Relevance and further information

Suppliers must offer the customer an option to pay for their electricity and gas through a PPM to recover debt where it is safe and reasonably practicable in all circumstances for the customer to do so.

This data covers the period Q3 2016 to Q2 2017. This is the latest 12 month period for which we have data available.

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Chart

Source: Ofgem calculations (ONS family spending data).

Information correct as of: October 2017

This graph shows the percentage of total household expenditure spent on energy. Total household expenditure includes housing costs and energy spend refers to spend on electricity, gas and other fuels. It gives figures for households in the lowest and highest 10% of incomes, as well as an average figure for all UK households.

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Energy spend as a percentage of total household expenditure (UK)

YearLowest 10%Highest 10%All households
199311.6%3.0%4.8%
199410.9%3.0%4.6%
199510.3%2.8%4.5%
19969.9%2.8%4.3%
19979.1%2.5%3.9%
19987.0%2.1%3.3%
19996.5%2.0%3.2%
20006.8%2.0%3.1%
20015.9%1.9%2.9%
20025.7%1.9%2.9%
20035.6%1.9%2.9%
20045.5%2.0%2.9%
20055.8%2.1%3.1%
20066.6%2.4%3.5%
20076.4%2.6%3.7%
20088.4%2.7%4.0%
20098.5%3.0%4.7%
20107.3%3.1%4.5%
20117.8%3.1%4.6%
20127.8%3.2%4.7%
201310.4%3.3%5.1%
20149.8%3.2%4.9%
20159.7%2.9%4.4%

More information

Energy spend as a percentage household expenditure: At-a-glance summary

In 2015, UK households were spending on average 4.4% of their total expenditure on energy, up from approximately 3% in the early 2000s. In 2015, households in the lowest income decile spent nearly 10% of their total expenditure on energy, up from approximately 5% in 2004. However, while the average share of energy spend in household budgets has increased since 2004, in 2015 it was at a similar level to that in 1996.

In 2015 the ONS changed how it reported data, from reporting the calendar year to the financial year. It reported both figures for 2014. The figure for 2014 are calendar year and the figure for 2015 is the 2015/16 financial year. 

Relevance 

Energy is an essential service required for health and wellbeing. Consuming below the level of accepted thermal comfort may have serious health consequences, while worrying about how to meet fuel bills can also have psychological effects

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Chart tips: Click on titles in a chart legend to switch data series on and off. View and sort chart numbers using the chart’s ‘data table’ tab, or download data in a variety of formats including images using the menu buttonmenu button