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


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)

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.


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
October 2017
Policy area