Scots struggling to pay energy bills

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Savvy Scots are switching providers more as they look to bring down the costs of heating their homes  

12th February 2020 by Gareth Jones 1 Comment

Scots are struggling to pay their energy bills, a major new report has shown.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has published its Market Pulse study, which quizzed more than 3,000 people on the energy market in Scotland.

It found 12% of Scots consider energy prices too expensive, with increasing numbers of consumers switching to smaller, cheaper suppliers.

More than a quarter of respondents said they switched their energy supplier in 2019, up from 21% when CAS began its reports on the state of the energy market in 2017.

Half of all those who switched providers used a price comparison website, resulting in just 16% opting for any of the so-called big six energy companies.

Although British Gas retains the largest proportion of customers at 18%, followed by ScottishPower at 16% and SSE at 15%, the percentage of people using one of Scotland’s six largest companies fell from 75% to 67% between 2017 and 2019.

CAS markets spokesperson Dr Jamie Stewart said: “This major report gives us a really useful insight into the state of the energy market in Scotland which policymakers in government and industry may wish to consider.

“It’s notable that more than one in 10 consumers feel their bills are unaffordable. Our report highlights the key divide in the nation, with some appearing to manage the cost of energy while a significant proportion of society continue to struggle. We strongly believe that more needs to be done to ensure that the essential service of energy is affordable for everyone in Scotland.  

“That affordability question appears to be driving some consumers to switch from a traditional big six supplier to smaller, newer companies. However this comes against a backdrop of suppliers failing across the UK, with 12 companies failing between June 2018 to June 2019, affecting over one million consumers across the UK.”

The report also found fewer Scots are using electricity to heat their homes, with a shift towards gas – the most popular primary source of heat, accounting for 73% of homes.

Use of electric heating as the primary source of heating was highest in Glasgow, where 22% of respondents use it, and north-east Scotland, where 20% reported it as their primary heat source.

Stewart added: “The small fall in people using electricity and the increase in gas usage should also be considered carefully by policymakers. As mains gas remains the cheapest way to heat homes for most people, policy makers will have to make tough decisions about how we decarbonise household heating and how to support people with the associated costs. 

“It’s also concerning to note to that only a quarter of consumers were enrolled in the Priority Service Register when nearly half were eligible. This is a vital scheme which delivers better support for vulnerable customers and more needs to be done to promote it.

“Consumers who feel they need support on energy issues can always turn to the Citizens Advice network in Scotland. We help hundreds of thousands of people every year and last year saved people on average £232 off their bill.”

13th February 2020 by Lok Yue

One of the problems is the 'green energy' element of energy bills. This of course helps wind energy companies pay for purchase of seaborne bird choppers from China, the production of which require 700 tons of coal each and of course transport costs through oil fired cargo vessels. Oh and lets not forget the necessity of keeping backup conventional power stations turning over so the country does not go dark when the wind stops, as it does quite frequently