Utility bills hitting pockets ever harder in Spain as crisis takes its toll

WITH the continuing financial crisis, more people find it harder to pay utility bills.

Despite many Spaniards’ increased difficulties in finding the wherewithal to meet outgoings, utilities have been less affected by unsettled bills than any other sector of the economy.

An average of 2.8 per cent of the bills for professional services, education, construction and health bills are outstanding in Spain, revealed a recent survey by the Swedish credit management company, Intrum Justitia.

In contrast, only 1.5 per cent of Spain’s utility bills were not paid between the onset of the crisis in 2008 and 2011, explained Luis Salvaterra, director general of Intrum Justitia Iberica. Last year, however, this rose to 1.8 per cent.

Seventy per cent of utility bills are still paid within the stipulated period although clients take an increasingly longer time, the survey found.

“These days, it’s difficult to live without water or energy,” Salvatierra pointed out.  “Besides, utility companies can easily cut off supplies.”

Many unpaid utility bills relate to companies which closed last year, according to Salvatierra, many victims of the government’s spending cuts and austerity measures.

Many businesses pulled down the shutters “without meeting their obligations,” he suggested, leaving accumulated electricity, water and gas bills.

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