A QUARTER of UK adults may be unable to pay their energy bills by October as monthly payments could rise by £145.
The price rise threatens to throw 14.5 million Brits into financial ruin, according to charity Citizens Advice.
It is a huge jump from the five million who already say they cannot afford April's price increase of £60 a month.
Two in five (41%) of those warning they will be pushed into debt next month said they had already borrowed money to pay for essentials.
Research also found that a massive 83% of those polled did not think the Government's £200 energy rebate would make a significant difference to their ability to pay their energy bills.
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The rebate is expected to be paid into customers' accounts in October and paid back over the following five years.
While people using prepayment meters are set to be hardest hit by rising energy prices, the charity said.
This is because they were less able to spread the cost of their energy throughout the year and were at greater risk of having their gas and electricity cut off if they could not afford to top up.
Soaring energy costs could see the average family on a prepayment meter facing bills of a staggering £336 per month in December.
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That is more than £10 a day.
The same usage would have cost the average family only £147 in December 2021.
The findings come ahead of next week's spring statement, when Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged to announce further support for families struggling to pay their bills.
Citizens Advice issued a 'red alert' warning last month as demand for its services soared.
Its frontline staff have since been helping record numbers access support such as food banks and one-off charitable grants amid the cost-of-living crisis.
And in the last week alone, the charity said it had supported a woman who could not afford to top up her prepayment meter after a hospital visit meant she was left with nothing but spoiled food in the fridge.
The charity also came to the rescue of a woman in her 70s with a chronic health condition – she had started wearing multiple layers and her duvet to keep warm as she could not afford to turn on her heating.
Citizens Advice chief executive Clare Moriarty said: "These staggering findings must be a wake-up call to the Government.
"With one in four unable to afford their bills come October, measures announced so far simply don't meet the scale of the challenge.
"Parents shouldn't have to decide between giving their kids a hot bath or saving the money to buy them new school shoes.
"The Chancellor has a crucial opportunity to bring forward more support for those most in need in his spring statement next week.
"Increasing benefits in line with inflation, expanding the Warm Home Discount and announcing a more generous energy rebate should be top of his list."
A Government spokesman said: "We recognise the pressures people are facing with the cost of living, which is why we have set out a generous £21 billion package of support.
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"This includes a £150 council tax rebate from April and a further £200 energy bill discount in October to cut energy bills quickly for the majority of households, while the energy price cap continues to insulate millions of customers from volatile global gas prices.
"We will set out an energy supply strategy which will supercharge our renewable energy and nuclear capacity to bolster our domestic supply and help drive down energy costs."
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