Citizens Advice Scotland has hit out at British Gas for their latest price increase, and have called for the government to take action to secure a fair deal for Scottish consumers.
CAS Chief Executive Lucy McTernan said,
“This is yet more bleak news for Scottish families, many of whom are really struggling just to get by. Increases like these will affect everyone, but they have a disproportionate impact on those who are on the lowest incomes. Once again the poorest will be hit hardest of all.
“Every CAB in Scotland sees people every day who are struggling with their household finances, and high fuel bills are becoming a huge factor in that.* Only this week we saw a report from U-switch saying that one in 4 UK households are in fuel poverty. The Scottish government says the figure in Scotland is even higher – closer to one in three households.
“These high prices have a huge impact on people. Many CAB clients have told us they have had to get into debt in order to pay their bills. Others have had to make a choice between paying their fuel bills or putting food on the table for themselves and their children. That is surely unacceptable for our society today. And yet still these price hikes keep coming.
“This rise by British Gas comes just a month after a huge rise by Scottish Power. Customers can switch suppliers to get the best prices, but with all the companies increasing their prices its getting to the stage where there’s no such thing as a good deal in the fuel industry.
“The regulators, OFGEM, have made clear that they are unhappy with the way the fuel companies are behaving. It is time for government to take a serious look at this issue, and take whatever action is required to ensure that Scottish consumers get fair treatment.
“Meanwhile, anyone who is in financial difficulty and concerned about their bills can get free, confidential and impartial advice from their local CAB. We will do whatever we can to help.”
*Last year Scottish CABs dealt with 16,500 utility bill cases – that’s 45 such cases every day.
For interviews, please contact Tony Hutson on 07774 751655.
NB This is the number of the CAS Press Office, for use by journalists only. If you are a member of the public looking for CAB advice please contact your local bureau. Details of all Scottish bureaux can be found here.