In today's economic climate, households around the UK are struggling with all kinds of problems, from benefit cuts and stagnant incomes to worries about job security. Yet soaring energy prices have been identified as the biggest single threat to household finances over the year ahead.
So says September's HEAT - the Household Economic Activity Tracker from YouGov - which found that rising energy prices are even more troubling than unemployment, taxes or inflation.
The tracker worked like this: people were asked to pick out the biggest threat and biggest benefit to their finances over the next 12 months. They had six subjects to choose from (unemployment, inflation, energy prices, state benefits, taxes and interest rates) and were asked to rate them all on a scale of 1-10.
Giving something a 1 meant they saw it as a major benefit, while a 10 meant it was seen as a major threat. Rising energy prices got a 7.8 rating overall, putting them right at the top of the threat list.
"Britain isn't known for its mild winters," said a spokesperson for thinkmoney, "so it's no surprise to see people worrying about the cost of energy as winter approaches. All the recent news about further price rises is a major concern - households everywhere are already struggling to keep up, so this could easily push struggling households into serious money problems.
"These aren't the first figures to highlight people's concerns about energy prices. Back in May, a study by uSwitch found that the average household energy bill had leapt up by 140% since 2004 - far faster than inflation in general and seven times as fast as household incomes, which had risen by just 20% in that time."
The greater the pressure on a household's finances, the more important it is to budget carefully. Making sure every bill gets paid on time can help people avoid unexpected charges and live within their means, without borrowing. If you're looking for some expert help with your budgeting, a Personal Account from thinkmoney could be what you're looking for.