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Brits underestimate bills by not reading them properly

More than a quarter of Brits admit to not taking the time to read bills, despite 95% trying to reduce their expenditure

800,000 Brits don't open their bills

800,000 Brits don’t open their bills

A report published by Santander has revealed that as many as 26% of people admit that they are not reading their utility bills properly, with many others underestimating what their gas and electricity will cost them.

In stark contrast, 95% of British customers are actively taking steps to reduce their bills this year.

Many Brits do not open bills

According to the study, some 800,000 people across the country do not even open their bills, which could lead to them spending more than they have to for their utilities.

By not checking what they are being charged, or by dealing with estimates and direct debits, consumers could be overspending massively when they simply don’t need to.

Recently, Labour leader Ed Miliband revealed that his party believes overspending through these channels accounts for some £3.5 billion per year as a whole across the UK.

And according to the findings from Santander, being out of touch with what they pay is a major reason many people feel that their household bills are crippling them financially.

It asked consumers to estimate what they spend on their gas and electricity each year, and found that the average estimate was a full £672 less than reality.

“Household bills have risen significantly in recent years. With household income not growing as fast, many families are struggling.  While almost all households are making efforts to manage their energy consumption, people could manage their household bills more efficiently by providing their supplier with regular meter readings and checking statements thoroughly,” said Matt Hall, director of banking at Santander.

Many still struggling to afford bills

Another key finding from the study was that many people across the UK are simply still struggling to pay their bills.

It found that some 11% of people across the country cannot afford to pay their charges at all, while for 44%, settling their bills is something they are barely able to do.

And despite this, low numbers of consumers are taking steps to make sure they can afford to pay each month.

Although 95% of people are attempting to manage or cut the amount of energy they are using in the home, the study found that very few are putting money away with the intention of spending on their bills.

Only 33% said they set money aside specifically for this purpose when they are paid, while just 15% transfer funds for their bills into a separate dedicated account.

“In addition to reducing consumption, bill payers should also consider the most cost effective way of making payments. Many suppliers offer a discount for setting up a direct debit for instance and there are also opportunities to generate cashback on bill spend,” added Hall.

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