Moneyhub: UK Faces Utility Bill Anxiety - Open Banking Offers Relief
February 6, 2024

Two in five UK adults have missed a utility bill payment in the last six months according to research from Moneyhub.

Moneyhub’s recent financial wellbeing survey 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 that have missed a payment in the last six months, more than two in five missed utility bills. More than three quarters of those surveyed 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.

Soaring UK utility costs amid the cost of living crisis have sparked financial distress. Ofgem's December 2023 data revealed a record £3billion energy bill debt. This crisis intensifies anxiety, especially among lower-income families. Energy bills top the stress list at 41 per cent, followed by water bills (14 per cent) and broadband payments (10 per cent).

Utility companies can assist struggling customers by offering solutions. Survey results show 38 per cent favour choosing Direct Debit dates, while 28 per cent prefer payment reminders, and 27 per cent desire better financial oversight. Additionally, 17 per cent believe weekly bill payments could be transformative.

Open banking and open finance present flexible payment options. They allow providers to prevent unexpected price shocks, facilitating easy payments and tailored solutions for heating, electricity, broadband and water bills. Open Banking payments enable providers to step in and take actions that would go a significant way to mitigating the issues associated with missing payments, payments anxiety and support overall financial wellness.

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.”