ComRes interviewed the British public of behalf of Ovo Energy.
Date Published: 31 Oct 2012
Categories: Business | Consumer | Energy | Public and communities | UK
New campaign urges government to Turn Up The Heat on unfair UK energy pricing
Almost nine in ten Brits back calls from nationwide campaign for Government to force energy firms to switch all customers to the cheapest tariff
• 86% of Brits think the Government should introduce legislation to make energy companies automatically put their customers on the cheapest tariff
• Just 3% of think energy suppliers’ tariffs are honest
• Fewer than one in ten find energy tariffs predictable (9%) or clear (6%)– potentially costing each UK household up to £300 extra per year
• 68% believe price plans are ‘confusing’
• Three in five (62%) say they would be likely toshun their energy supplier for smaller independent suppliers if energy prices were to rise
The British public are turning up the heat on energy suppliers as fresh research reveals 86% of people believe the Government "should introduce legislation which makes energy companies automatically put customers on their cheapest tariff".
A poll of 2,066 Britishadults conducted by ComRes on behalf of the Turn Up The Heat campaign shows there is overwhelming support for such an initiative across the country, coming as the UK’s biggest energy firms have inflicted hard-pressed customers with inflation-busting price rises of up to 11% over the last few weeks.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister today, the Turn Up The Heat campaign, led by UK energy provider Ovo Energy, is calling on the Government to put consumers and not big business at the heart of energy policy. If the Government introduced the proposed legislation in the forthcoming Energy Bill it would put money back into the pockets of hard-working families struggling to pay their bills up and down the country.
Currently consumers are made to negotiate a maze of confusing price plans with no direct way to compare prices across tariffs or between suppliers. By introducing legislation which automatically puts customers on the lowest tariff the Government will stop some energy companies from relying on customer apathy to get away with overcharging their customers.
As a result, the findings of the poll reveal that just 3% of British people think tariffs are honest – while only 6% think tariffs are ‘clear’.
Additionally, almost one in ten (9%) think firms’ tariffs were ‘predictable’
Seven in ten (68%) feel energy suppliers' tariffs are "confusing", rising to 77% for potentially vulnerable people aged 55 and over.
The latest figures from Ofgem show the average domestic fuel bill has now risen to £1,335 per year* – and with up to £300 a year difference between the cheapest and most expensive plans, energy bill confusion could be costing UK households over a billion a year in extra payments.
The poll’s results highlight the strength of feeling across Britain’s demographic groups for Government legislation on tariffs.
81% of wealthier Brits classed as ‘AB’ social grade agree that the Government should make energy providers automatically place customers on the lowest tariff, rising to 89% amongst the poorer sections of society classed as ‘C2DE’ social grade, those Britons hardest hit by power price hikes.
Support in every British region topped four in five people, ranging from 83% in Scotland and the South East to a high of 91% in the East Midlands.
But despite the nation’s anger and desire for change, only one in five (20%) have switched supplier in the last 12 months, possibly caused by the confusion and complexity consumers are faced with. Whilst 27% of respondents could not remember ever having changed energy provider.
People in social grade AB were more likely to have switched in the last three years (45%) compared to people in social grade DE (39%).
The study also showed the potential for consumers to turn their backs on the Big Six suppliers, with 62% saying they would be likely to switch to a smaller independent energy firm to avoid price rises.
For further information on the Turn Up The Heat campaign please visit www.turnuptheheat2012.co.uk
* Figures taken from Ofgem’s ‘Electricity and Gas Supply Market Indicators’ Retail Market Review, published on 24th October 2012
ComRes interviewed 2,066 adults online from 24th to 26th October 2012. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all British adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.