Energy prices top worry for consumers

Which? has found that energy prices now top the consumer worry list, along with fuel prices and public spending cuts. Nearly two thirds (64%) of people said they were worried about energy prices, a rise of eight percentage points since September.

Distrust within the energy sector has also increased by six percentage points meaning a third of consumers now (35%) distrust the sector.

This new research comes 30 days ahead of the Which? deadline for energy companies to submit plans on how they would help their customers on the most expensive tariffs onto better deals, as part of the Fair Energy Prices campaign.

With less than one month to go, not one energy firm has yet published a plan and all are fast running out of time. Energy suppliers have until the 31st of January to find new ways of getting customers stuck on poor value deals to move.

Some energy suppliers have temporarily frozen their standard tariff prices this winter, but this doesn’t go far enough to help their customers on the most expensive deals. These tariffs are generally the most expensive deals on the market and customers should look to see if they can switch to a better deal before price hikes.

Alex Neill, Managing Director of Which? Home & Legal Services, said:

“The clock is ticking for energy companies with 16 million households stuck on variable tariffs and trust in the industry falling, more needs to be done to move people onto better deals.

“With price hikes due later this year, temporary fixes from suppliers are just not enough to help people stuck on the most expensive deals. Energy companies will have no one else to blame but themselves if the Government and the regulator have to step in and intervene.”

Which? found that, on average, customers with the ‘Big Six’ could be saving up to £330 a year by moving to the cheapest dual fuel deal on the market this winter.

 

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Notes to editors:

  • In November 2016, Which? called on all energy companies to find new ways of getting customers stuck on poor value deals to move. Our ‘Fair Energy Prices’ campaign is challenging the energy companies to publish plans by 31st January 2017 detailing how they will engage standard tariff customers and take immediate action this winter to deliver against this plan.

  • Which?’s Consumer Insight Tracker is a nationally representative online survey of around 2,000 UK households.

  • Standard variable tariff is a supplier’s ‘default’ tariff. It will have variable prices that can go up and down with the market, but is usually the most expensive tariff for energy.

  • 16 million households on a SVT was derived from 2016 BEIS energy statistics reporting that there were 29.9m electricity customers, 86% of whom were with a Big Six supplier according to Ofgem Q2 2016, and 67% of those are paying for their energy via a variable tariff (BEIS). Note we could not separate standard variable tariffs from other variable tariffs, but all variable tariffs for big 6 suppliers were classified as SVT.

  • Average energy tariffs were calculated for the Big Six variable rate dual fuel tariffs from Energylinx data. The prices calculated were for typical medium household use (12,500kWh per year gas and 3,100kWh electricity), by monthly direct debit. Prices were averaged across all regions.

  • Responses from all suppliers will be published on the Fair Energy Prices website once submitted to Which?.

  • Which? is encouraging members of the public to sign its ‘Fair Energy Prices’ petition to support the campaign, which has had over 500,000 signatures.

  • Consumers looking for cheaper energy deals can compare deals with Which? Switch, a transparent and impartial way to compare energy tariffs and find the best gas and electricity supplier.

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