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


Source: Vulnerability Report 2019.

Information correct as of: September 2019

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 Q4 2018.

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 quarter three (July-Sept) 2012.

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Average debt level where there is no arrangement to repay the debt (arrears)
Q3 2012445440
Q4 2012433439
Q1 2013452433
Q2 2013489450
Q3 2013490466
Q4 2013466460
Q1 2014472473
Q2 2014489495
Q3 2014484503
Q4 2014489495
Q1 2015512532
Q2 2015555561
Q3 2015554574
Q4 2015536585
Q1 2016558587
Q2 2016558581
Q3 2016534568
Q4 2016510570
Q1 2017548591
Q2 2017547596
Q3 2017529580
Q4 2017493555
Q1 2018488571
Q2 2018506571
Q3 2018508598
Q4 2018478589

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. For gas, it peaked in Q1 2017 and has since fallen by 13 per cent. In electricity, after a couple of quarters of a downward trend, the level of debt increased again over the first three quarter of 2018 (i.e. by 8 per cent from Q4 2017 to Q3 2018), but has slightly fallen in Q4 2018.

The increase in the average debt is at least in part due to the continuing reductions in the total number of customers in debt, as this reduction 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 are billed for the warmer months. It then rises in the spring when customers 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.


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.

Date correct
September 2019
Policy area