This report examines the types of issues on which clients sought advice with regards to their household energy in 2011/12. It also examines the client profile of people seeking help on such issues, thus allowing support to be targeted at the groups where it is most needed.
The report makes several recommendations for suppliers and regulators including;
- Prepayment meters should be fixed at the cheapest tariff the supplier offers.
- Where customers are in receipt of benefits, energy suppliers should recognise that customers may face additional difficulties in paying for electricity and take action to support them.
- Arrears should be identified quickly by suppliers and communicated to customers to allow them to address the issue before the debt becomes unaffordable.
- Support such as the Warm Homes Discount should be made as accessible as possible to consumers. For example, online only applications can act as a barrier to vulnerable people accessing the vital support they need.
- Future support programmes for vulnerable customers should take into account the client profiles of citizens who access their CAB for help with energy and ensure support is targeted towards these groups.
- The Scottish Government and local authorities should take into account the rising cost of energy when designing crisis grants and other support available through the social fund.