The issue of fuel poverty has long been one of the biggest talking points in the electricity and gas industry – with a growing number of people not able to adequately heat or power their homes due to the rising cost of their utilities bills. Last week, E.ON were the first of the major providers to drop their prices, announcing a 3.5% reduction in their prices.
While this may only amount to an annual saving of £24 for the average household, this is a marked difference from the seemingly never-ending rise in prices seen across the board in the UK. This shift in policy was has not gone unnoticed – with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau immediately calling for the other major utilities companies to follow suit.
“No more ifs and buts”
While consumers have gotten used to their bills going up from gas and electricity providers, statistics show that wholesale prices – the price that British Gas, E.ON, EDF and other utilities companies pay for gas – is now at a four year low. In the same period, the British public has seen the average cost of heating and powering a home go up by around 33%.
Speaking after the announcement of the cuts, Citizen’s Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said, “There can be no more ifs and buts, all energy firms must now cut household bills. If E.ON can cut its gas prices so can the other firms.”
At the time of writing, there have been no announcements for rival firms to carry out any cuts in prices. Guy didn’t let E.ON completely off the hook, going on to add, “Consumers will welcome E.On’s gas bill reduction but the savings remain modest. If E.On has reduced its gas bill it should also be able to pass on wholesale savings by cutting its electricity costs.
“Many people are struggling to heat their homes and keep a roof over their head. More are now seeking our help with priority debts like rent arrears because of the toxic mix of rising bills with slow wage growth, low pay and short hours. The energy market must work for consumers, not just add to their misery.
The Citizen’s Advice team have also previously been critical of metered electricity and of the need for customers to constantly change providers in order to get the best rates – something again echoed by Guy: “As it stands energy prepayment meter customers can pay a yearly average of £80 more for a second-class service. Citizens Advice wants to see energy suppliers reduce prices for all customers, not just those able to switch to get the best deals. It is unacceptable that energy firms have not even provided an adequate explanation for why they have so far failed to reduce prices.”