With the latest projections from Cornwall Insight pointing to the next price cap exceeding £3,300 this winter, Energy UK is calling the Government to again look at actions that could reduce customer bills.
These could include removing VAT from bills, moving existing levies onto general taxation and seeing whether other costs can be spread over a longer period of time. As Citizens Advice has reported this week, almost 30 energy companies have exited the market since last August which, along with the costs involved with Bulb entering the special administration regime, could add £4.6bn – or £164 per household – to customers’ bills. Looking again at deferring these costs could help provide some relief to customers.
Dhara Vyas, Director of Advocacy, said:
“It’s extremely worrying news for customers that energy bills could be even higher than originally predicted this winter. The number of people contacting their energy company is higher than ever and suppliers know that many of their customers are already struggling with paying household bills and managing their finances during this cost-of-living crisis.
“Suppliers are continuing to do all they can to support customers, investing hundreds of millions of pounds in additional funds and providing financial relief to those that need it most. But the scale of the help needed is too big for any industry to meet.
“While the current support package is very welcome, if bills are going to be even worse than had been predicted, further Government intervention will be necessary. This could include looking at what else can be taken off energy bills, even on a temporary basis, to provide further and much-needed relief for customers. It’s essential that the next Prime Minster urgently implements long-term plans to improve energy efficiency in homes and increase sources of clean domestic energy to bring down bills permanently.”
Eleven of the largest energy suppliers have signed up to Energy UK’s Vulnerability Commitment and pledged to improve services they provide to those most in need – despite the ongoing challenges. This includes funding and working in partnership debt advice charities and a focus on improving customer communications.
Existing schemes such as the Warm Home Discount and Energy Company Obligation will provide over £1.5 billion of support for customers this winter. The Energy Bill Support Scheme will take effect from October where all domestic electricity customers in Great Britain will receive a £400 grant. Energy retail suppliers are working hard to ensure this process is smooth for all customers, including those on prepayment meters.
Energy UK is also working with its members, Ofgem and consumer groups to ensure messages are consistent, and that organisations involved in supporting customers have all the necessary information to ensure people get all the help and support that they’re eligible to receive. Suppliers are also preparing for a further increase in contact from customers by training up hundreds of newly employed customer service specialists and opening more communications channels to provide easier access to support. Energy UK is bringing together its members, the regulator, consumer groups and other industries to share best practice on how to most effectively support consumers.