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Energy bills become consumers’ biggest concern

Worries about affordable energy beat fears about job security, food costs

man shocked worried at energy billEnergy bills are now the single-biggest financial concern for UK consumers, according to a new poll that shows gas and electricity bills are more worrisome than rising food prices and job security.

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, which gauges people’s attitudes toward their current financial situation and their future thoughts and concerns, revealed that 31% of people now rank rising energy bills as one of their two biggest concerns, beating out economy worries.

More than 29,000 people were questioned for the study, which spanned the first three months of 2013, and showed that energy bills surpass the economy (23%), food prices (22%) and debt (19%) as the major points of concern for consumers.

Little confidence

The majority of people have little confidence that their financial situation will improve in the months ahead, and Chris Morley, Nielsen’s managing director for UK & Ireland, said it is “hardly surprising”  that finances dominate concerns.

“Almost one in three UK consumers have no spare cash once they’ve covered their essential living expense, much higher than the one in five across Europe as a whole,” he explained.

“Furthermore, almost nine in 10 consumers think we’re in a recession and, amongst those that do, only 15% think we’ll be out of it within a year.”

Working hard

Commenting on the findings, a spokesperson for energy industry trade body Energy UK told Marketing Magazine: “We understand that people are concerned by the rising cost of living, which is why our members are working to provide clear, good value tariffs and help in reducing bills.

“The relationship between energy provider and customer is vital and we are improving our information so customers can choose the services which are right for them.”

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