Many consumers will simply not be able to cope with ongoing increases in the cost of living caused by higher fuel bills.
This is the view of trade union Unison, which argued many public sector workers have been unable to afford to put the heating on in winter because of the government's public sector freeze.
General secretary Dave Prentis said that while it is now summer, winter is not so far off and these problems will soon arise again.
He remarked: "It is a scandal that exorbitant energy prices are having such a massive impact on the quality of life of some of the poorest workers in our society."
Those who have run up fuel bill arrears might benefit from a debt management plan before the colder weather returns.
Falling real-terms incomes are reducing the ability of consumers to pay their bills.
A recent study by Lloyds TSB indicated that consumers have £34 less on average to spend on essentials than a year ago.
By Joe White