Advice in Detail: Energy looks at the energy related issues which people brought to the Scottish CAB Service in 2012/13. The report, based on evidence from citizens advice bureaux and the Citizens Advice consumer service, shows that consumers continue to face many and varied problems with their energy, from high costs to poor selling practices. The report also demonstrates the value of CAB advice, with the financial gain for clients reaching almost a quarter of a million pounds in 2012/13 – up 15% from the previous year.
The main findings from the report are;
- Although fuel poverty rates are down by 3.4%, Scottish CABs saw 4% more energy related issues in 2012/13 compared with the previous year
- With the addition of the Citizens Advice consumer helpline in 2012, the Scottish CAB Service now deals with 31% more energy issues than it did in 2011/12
- Scottish CABs secured nearly a quarter of a million pounds (£242,918) for clients through advice on switching, energy efficiency, debt management and government schemes. That’s an increase of 15% on the previous year.
- Consumers in Scotland contacted their CAB with nearly seven times as many issues about poor sales practices in 2012/13 (up from 111 to 756; an increase of 581%).
- Our case evidence shows that benefits changes are having a serious and detrimental effect on people’s ability to pay for their fuel, often leaving people facing the stark choice between heating and eating.
The report also makes several recommendations including;
- Prepayment meters should be automatically fixed at the lowest possible tariff in order to tackle the poverty premium faced by many customers.
- Repayment plans should be established quickly and in consultation with the customer if they fall into arrears. Repayments should be set at affordable rates and clients should be able to negotiate repayment rates based on their income.
- Abrupt halts to benefits can leave people without energy, food and with mounting debt that they are not in a position to repay. Government at all levels must take these consequences into account when making decisions about benefits, particularly around sanctions.
For more information on the report, please contact Sarah Beattie-Smith on 0131 550 1016 or firstname.lastname@example.org