Reality bites as bills hit the mat
THE challenge facing the next government -- and indeed the country -- is starkly illustrated by the extraordinary numbers of people who appear to be having difficulty paying for their gas and electricity services.
Bills are bigger, after the harsh cold snap over Christmas, and prices are also higher than last winter. Perhaps the weather will improve, but the outlook for prices looks chilly, with oil firmly above $100 a barrel.
However, these signs of financial distress among more than one-in-10 households are not just about energy costs. They are a sign of the pressure on household incomes from unemployment, lower earnings, higher taxes and debt.