Moneyhub Research: 1 in 10 UK Adults Miss Utility Bill Payments
February 21, 2024

New research from Moneyhub Payments uncovers that one in ten UK adults have missed utility bill payments within the last six months, underscoring the necessity for more adaptable payment methods.

The study, conducted as part of Moneyhub's financial wellbeing survey, indicates that escalating utility costs, coupled with broader concerns about the cost of living, are exacerbating financial stress among households.

Moneyhub has shown that around a quarter (24 per cent) of UK adults have missed a payment of some kind in the last six months. Of these consumers, more than 10 per cent missed utility bills.

More than three quarters (77 per cent) felt anxious when expecting bills to arrive or be paid, with utility bills causing consumers the most concern with 51 per cent citing them as the bill type that causes them the most anxiety.

Rising utility costs in the UK, compounded by the broader affordability crisis, are causing considerable distress among consumers. With households facing the daunting task of budget management, the magnitude of the issue is underscored by Ofgem's December 2023 data, revealing a record £3billion in consumer energy bill debt. This surge not only burdens average households financially but also instills profound anxiety about future affordability, especially among lower-income families and those already grappling with economic challenges, exacerbating financial stress and uncertainty.

Across the types of utility bills, energy bills were found to be the most stressful for consumers, with 41 per cent saying they made them the most anxious. This was followed by water bills (14 per cent) and broadband payments (10 per cent).

Utility companies have solutions to aid struggling customers. According to UK consumers, choosing the Direct Debit date (38 per cent), receiving payment warnings (28 per cent), and better financial oversight (27 per cent) are effective. Additionally, 17 per cent prefer weekly bill payments, potentially transformative for this group. Open banking and open finance payments offer flexibility, preventing surprises and facilitating seamless transactions. This approach allows providers to monitor affordability, offer payment splits, and address payment-related stress, enhancing overall financial wellbeing.

Mark Munson, MD of payments at Moneyhub, said: “Missed payments are causing significant concern for UK consumers, with utility bills the number one culprit. With energy bills high, there is a real worry that this problem will only worsen without intervention.

“Fortunately, there are technologies that utility providers can adopt to improve their offerings to customers and better support when that customer is showing signs of distress. Often customers just need a little extra flexibility to help them get back on their feet, and with open banking and open finance, providers will be able to identify those struggling and be able to offer them individualised solutions.

“Utility businesses can benefit too by offering alternative payment options tailored to the specific needs of their customers.Companies that offer choice and more control over how consumers pay will reap rewards in improved consumer loyalty, reduced churn and increased customer satisfaction.”