What can be done to fix the UK energy market? SSE’s decision to match price rises introduced by the other ‘Big Six’ power firms is by this stage a weary inevitability. Was it ever likely that one of these companies would buck the trend, after Ofgem raised the cap on prices, creating genuine competition? or would SSE fall into line leaving the biggest companies offering customers virtually identical tariffs – choice but no choice, like a cosy cartel? There’s no longer any fun in guessing. The energy market is entirely artificial. There is no real choice, there is no real competition and any attempts to change that seem doomed to failure. Ofgem insists price rises are “only due to actual rises in energy costs”. But customers remember how little prices changed during three recent years of wholesale energy price reductions, and trust in the suppliers is all but gone. But there are alternatives. Consumers seem to think green tariffs and smaller suppliers are more expensive but many of these now offer a better deal. The entire energy market needs rethinking from the ground up. But in the meantime, switching regularly is the best protection from ever-rising energy bills.
Herald 22nd Feb 2019 read more »
This time last year we were battening down the hatches as the “Beast from the East” hit. Temperatures plummeted, homes cut off as a result of the heavy snow and older people living alone left more isolated. While this winter has been less harsh, there are no fewer pensioners struggling with the cost of heating their homes properly. Our own research tells us 60 per cent of single pensioner households have difficulty paying energy bills and four in 10 pensioner couples are in the same boat. Fuel poverty is a harsh reality for too many Scots of all ages. Last month’s announcement from energy regulator Ofgem that they were to “cap” the cost paid by the one million Scottish households on the default tariff was welcome. That revolutionary move would have saved people, many of which are over 65, more than £100 a year. A month later and Ofgem have done an about turn. Citing increased costs of wholesale energy and transportation, the cap has been raised meaning that those on the standard variable rate could now pay up to £116 more. This just shows just how volatile the energy market can be when attempting to control pricing and makes a mockery of the term “cap”. Since this new announcement the Big Six energy suppliers have announced plans to raise energy prices from 1st April to just shy of the new “cap”.
Herald 21st Feb 2019 read more »