Energy price cap “offers some much needed protection for loyal households”, says Citizens Advice

  • 0

Energy price cap “offers some much needed protection for loyal households”, says Citizens Advice

Friday 09 November 2018

Citizens Advice, in its role as the official consumer champion for energy, has responded to Ofgem’s announcement confirming the level and timing of the price cap on default tariffs.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“This price cap will finally offer some much needed protection for loyal households on default tariffs, who have been exploited for too long.

“While the cap will mean that people pay a fairer price, it will not be the best deal on the market. By shopping around and changing tariff or supplier, people are likely to be able to make much greater savings on their energy bills.

“Households may also be able to reduce their bills and make long-term savings by improving the energy efficiency of their homes. Simple steps, such as better insulation or heating controls, are a good place to start.”

Consumer Advice

To support customers to save money on their energy bills, Citizens Advice provides an independent comparison site and a customer service star rating which ranks suppliers’ customer service.


  • -

CAB News 12 October 2018

Friday 12 October 2018

Our response to Ofgem’s Annual State of the Market report has received national pick up including by The Telegraph and BBC.

The report showed that the profits and market share of the six largest energy suppliers have fallen in the past year.

National

Energy

Competition drives down collective profits of Big Six

The Daily Telegraph, 12/10/2018, p.4, Jillian Ambrose

Responding to Ofgem’s Annual State of the Market report, Gillian Guy said the rising number of people opting for new energy suppliers “underlines why it’s so important that Ofgem tightens up its licensing rules”.

Gillian said: “We know that some suppliers entering the market aren’t prepared to provide adequate customer service, or aren’t financially robust enough to survive. Poor customer service often hits vulnerable customers the hardest. It needs to stop poorly prepared companies from entering the market, and take badly performing suppliers out of the market quicker.”

”Tens of thousands” disconnect their own power supplies

BBC (Web), 11/10/2018, Unattributed

Image result for power supply disconnect

The BBC quoted our research showing that tens of thousands of the UK’s poorest householders are disconnecting their own power supplies, because they cannot afford to top up their meters.
“Citizens Advice estimated that as many as 140,000 householders were going without gas or electricity, because they could not afford to top up their meters. Of those, 56% were left with cold homes, while 35% had insufficient light.”

Universal Credit

McVey buys silence with gag clause

The Times, 12/10/2018, p.9, Paul Morgan

DWP has confirmed to The Times that Citizens Advice has not signed a full contract with a publicity clause but had instead signed a grant agreement to help claimants through every step of making a Universal Credit claim. Gillian Guy was also quoted saying Citizens Advice had signed no restrictive clauses.

Gillian said: “Nothing in the agreement prevents us from continuing to raise our evidence publicly.”

Problems with universal credit

BBC Radio4, PM, 08/10/2018, 17:15:27, 5:0

Kayley Hignell, Head of Families, Welfare and Work was interviewed about the issues we’re seeing with universal credit and how the government should address these.

Kayley said: “The people we see are people who are having a problem with universal credit. There are people who are having a positive experience or finding it OK but it has to work for everyone. This benefit covers people in so many different situations and when things go wrong they are absolutely terrible in terms of the consequences. It’s unacceptable to have a benefit system that can leave people in these situations.”

Do energy suppliers treat complaints too casually?

Utility Week (Web), 11/10/2018, Unattributed

Figures in the Ofgem report show that only a third of customers who make a complaint are happy with the response they get from their supplier. Gillian Guy, chief executive at Citizens Advice, agreed that while some improvements have been made, energy suppliers still have a lot more work to do to when it comes to complaint handling processes.

Gillian said: “Customers need to have confidence that when something goes wrong, their supplier will deal with it. [This survey] shows this isn’t the case. While some improvements have been made, it’s simply not good enough that only a third of customers are happy with how their complaints are handled,” she said.

Mobile phone bills

BBC 1, Rip Off Britain, 08/10/2018, 09:33:12, 5:0

Our research into separating the cost of mobile contracts and handsets was referenced in yesterday’s Rip off Britain episode.
“Research by Citizens Advice suggests that around four million people have been charged for a handset that they’ve already bought. The average extra cost is reckoned to be £22 a month – more for the latest smartphones. And, almost a quarter of over 65s were found to have stayed on their contract once their initial one had ended. If this had continued for a year, they could have faced unnecessary charges of up to £264.

In other news

More than a million people in the UK live in “food deserts” with limited access to affordable fresh food.

Report commissioned by ministers recommended a 32% salary pay rise for High Court judges.

A Guardian investigation suggests hundreds of vulnerable immigrants are being detained indefinitely.


  • -

Smaller and newer energy suppliers bottom of the pile for customer service once again

Image result for Ofgem

Friday 5 October 2018

TOTO Energy and Solarplicity have come bottom of the Citizens Advice customer service star rating, raising more concerns about the performance of some smaller and newer energy suppliers.

TOTO Energy received a score of 1.45 for the period from April to June 2018, down from a score of 1.6 the previous quarter. TOTO Energy had been second bottom last time, beating only Iresa, which ceased trading in August.

Solarplicity, appearing in the table for the first time, came second bottom, receiving a score of 1.8.

So Energy came at the top of the table for the third successive quarter, with an impressive score of 4.7, closely followed by mid-tier suppliers Bulb and Octopus Energy.

Smaller suppliers’ performance shows why tightening of regulation is needed

TOTO Energy customers have reported problems to Citizens Advice including not being able to contact the company, and problems with billing. One person said their direct debit was increased by over £100, while another said they could not get through to the supplier to resolve their issue for over two weeks.

The data published today backs up these complaints, showing that customers telephoning TOTO Energy spent an average of 23 minutes on hold, and that more than one in 10 customers had waited more than a year for an accurate bill.

Citizens Advice, as the official consumer body for energy, is highlighting the poor performance of some smaller energy companies and newer market entrants, arguing this demonstrates the need for tighter regulation.

Ofgem will shortly consult on new proposals for granting licences to energy suppliers as well as the monitoring they should face after entering the market.

Citizens Advice has called on Ofgem to tighten up the rules around who is able to supply energy. It believes that companies entering the market before they are ready to deliver adequate customer service is damaging people’s experience and trust in the market.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Too many customers are being let down by firms which aren’t ready or capable of providing a decent level of service. These aren’t small problems. Billing errors, blocking people from switching, and poor communications can cost customers money and make people’s lives a misery.

“Smaller companies at the top of the table show that size is no excuse for poor customer service.

“It’s vital that Ofgem now tackles the problem of newer and smaller firms letting people down and tightens up the rules around who can become an energy supplier.”

Supplier

Star rating April to June 2018

So Energy

4.7

Bulb Energy

4.35

Octopus Energy

4.3

British Gas

4.25

EDF Energy

4.05

Green Network Energy

4.05

SSE

3.95

Tonik Energy

3.95

Bristol Energy

3.85

Utility Warehouse

3.8

Engie

3.75

E (Gas and Electricity)

3.75

Scottish Power

3.65

First Utility

3.6

Ovo Energy

3.45

Ecotricity

3.4

npower

3.4

E.ON

3.15

Good Energy

3

Co-operative Energy

3

Utilita

2.75

Extra Energy

2.7

Avro Energy

2.55

Robin Hood Energy

2.55

Flow Energy

2.55

Together

2.5

PFP Energy

2.4

Economy Energy

2.3

iSupply

2.15

Spark Energy

2.1

Green Star Energy

2.1

Solarplicity

1.8

TOTO Energy

1.45