UK Consumers ‘Overpaying On Energy Bills’

July 14, 2015

British consumers and households are paying more than they should to cover their energy bills, according to an in-depth independent report on the subject.

Research suggests that the average UK household spends roughly £1,200 each year on meeting their energy needs but many are unaware that they could be paying less if they switched supplier.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has looked closely at the issue and produced a raft of recommended solutions for the government to look at on the basis of its own analysis and the input of 7,000 people currently living in Britain.

According to the authority, there is often scope for consumers to make sizable savings on their energy bills but there remains a widespread lack of engagement with the subject.

In fact, some 34 per cent of the 7,000 people quizzed by the CMA said that they had never considered the idea of switching from their current energy supplier in search of a less expensive deal.

“Many customers do not shop around to see if there’s a better deal out there – let alone switch,” said Roger Witcomb, chairman of the energy market investigation being carried out by the CMA.

“The confusing way energy is measured and billed can make comparing deals understandably daunting. The result is that some energy suppliers know they don’t have to work hard to keep these customers,” he said.

Importantly, the CMA’s research suggests that overpaying for energy hits Britain’s least well off households the hardest, with the country’s poorest 10 per cent now paying out an average of 10 per cent of their annual income on covering energy bills.

The CMA was asked by the energy industry watchdog Ofgem to scrutinise practices in the context of household energy supplies in June 2014.

Its recommendations are largely focussed around finding ways to encourage people to engage with the issue and to make sure they’re getting the best possible deal at a given time.

However, the CMA has also said it could be that low income households will need to be offered greater protections in other ways to keep them from overpaying for their energy supplies.

“We want to consider carefully whether some sort of protection is warranted whilst other changes take effect,” Witcomb said.

John Baird

Insolvency Adviser

Tel: 0800 063 9250

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