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CMA report should help cut fuel bills

Citizens Advice Scotland has welcomed today’s announcement by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on the energy market, but has said more must be done to make sure the changes help vulnerable consumers.

Kate Morrison, energy specialist in Citizen Advice Scotland’s Consumer Futures Unit welcomed the recommendations:

“Last year the Citizens Advice service in Scotland advised on a total of 28,000 energy issues. That’s an increase of a third from the previous year. It’s clear that energy bills are too high and that the energy market has not been working for consumers. We have been urging the CMA to act for some time, and a number of today’s proposals are very welcome.

“Scottish consumers are more likely to have ‘restricted meters’ which makes it really hard for them to switch or even to compare their energy prices online. We have submitted evidence on this issue throughout the energy market investigation so we are pleased to see that the CMA has recommended that energy suppliers must now offer single rate tariffs to these customers. This could save the majority of households with restricted meters nearly a fifth on their energy bills.

“We have long called for fairer treatment of pre-payment meter customers. The CMA has confirmed our findings that households with pre-payment meters pay more for their energy and have fewer tariffs to choose from so we welcome the recommendation for a price cap for these consumers.

“Furthermore the CMA findings make it clear that the additional money pre-payment customers pay to their energy suppliers far outweighs any additional costs associated with servicing these meters. Given that these consumers are less likely to switch and more likely to have a low income or a disability, for example, the additional costs shouldered by these consumers is highly unfair, so we welcome measures designed to ensure that all suppliers reduce bills for households with prepayment meters.

“So there is a lot of good progress in today’s announcement. But even so, there is still more to be done, and we need to make sure that these changes actually work for the consumer. Nobody in Scotland should be in fuel poverty in 2016, and yet over a third of households are. We support the CMA’s efforts today to reduce prices, but we also need to make sure that consumers have all the help they need to switch and save.”