The pandemic has brought widespread heartache for many people who have been directly affected by Covid-19, but the knock-on effects for those who are less fortunate than others have been financially devastating.

People in vulnerable situations are struggling to keep up with their every day household bills including energy and water since the pandemic took hold, with many thousands falling into ‘energy poverty’ according to the latest independent research.

A study of more than 500 people found that during the last 12 weeks, many have struggled to pay their water and energy bills and have chosen to defer payment.

Those aged between 31 and 45 have been among the hardest hit, blaming redundancy and furlough for their financial shortfall.

Among those researched, just over a quarter (37%) admitted to having no clue who to turn to for help, with 41% of respondents saying that they would phone a friend or parent to initially ask for debt advice.

Worryingly, despite the deferred payment options, 88% have not switched energy supplier with ‘I forgot about that’ being the main reason. Meanwhile, as we move out of lockdown, 10% of respondents are still concerned about meeting their energy and water charges.

Mark Abrams, chief executive of Auriga Services Ltd – an organisation that helps reduce financial hardship by working with some of the largest utility companies across the UK – said:

“Conducting the research has highlighted just how many people have been struggling with their utility bills during the pandemic and it’s worrying just how many people are facing financial hardship.

“Our aim is to help as many people as possible who are struggling to pay their bills during this challenging time and beyond, so that we can become a financial life line for them.

“Taking ownership of being unable to pay a bill is actually the first step towards getting help and that is something we applaud. We know that financial concerns are ever present at the moment yet there is clearly still a lot of work to be done towards educating people of how to gain the best advice and relieve some of the financial pressure points.”

“The water and energy sectors have been raising awareness of the support available to customers and many have put in place additional schemes, but we all need to work harder to ensure that these messages are getting through to those in need.”

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