Scots are being urged to check their energy deals as the freezing winter weather continues to see if they could be one of up to a million households that could be at least £100 better off.
Nearly half of all Scots (48 per cent)  have never switched their energy supplier or even checked to see if they’re getting the best deal on their energy bills with their current supplier.
The Energy Best Deal Scotland campaign, run by Consumer Focus Scotland and supported by Ofgem, is calling on consumers to take five simple steps to check whether they could make big savings by switching their energy supplier or changing their current tariff.
A central part of the campaign is helping consumers, especially those on low incomes, to check they’re getting the best deal. They hope to help up to a million households across Scotland that could be missing out on an average saving of £100 a year by switching energy supplier or changing their current tariff, with many able to save much more. Those who have never switched, or haven’t done so recently, are likely to find the biggest savings.
Ms Marieke Dwarshuis, Director of Consumer Focus Scotland, explains:
“With thousands of Scots snowed in at home, and energy prices set to rise, it is an ideal time for people to check if they are getting the best energy deal. We’ve approved several price comparison websites which make it easy for consumers to shop around for the best deal and if necessary, switch. It only takes a few minutes.”
“On average, people can save up to £100 a year but there is the potential to save much more and already we are hearing reports of people saving several hundred pounds – a great Christmas bonus. Many people have even managed to save just by changing the tariff with their existing supplier or switching to paying by direct debit.”
“However, people on low incomes are least likely to have switched suppliers according to our research, but they’re also the ones with most to gain. Because they are also less likely to have access to the internet and most likely to need extra help to switch, our campaign aims to provide the advice, information and support that low income and vulnerable consumers need to switch.”
The campaign is currently being rolled out across Scotland with frontline advisers being trained through a partnership with Money Advice Scotland (MAS) and Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) to help consumers check their bills – and switch supplier if necessary. A variety of information materials are also being made available through a wide range of outlets including Citizens Advice Bureaux, libraries, post offices, housing associations, health centres and local authorities.
Factbox: how to switch in five easy steps
- Find out how much you pay now – get a copy of your most recent gas and electricity bill
- Consumer Focus has accredited several price comparison websites through its Confidence Code. You can find a list of these sites at www.consumerfocus.org.uk or call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06
- Choose a deal that meets your needs and helps save you money
- The new supplier will organise the changeover – they’ll ask you for meter readings
- Switching can take around six to eight weeks – your supply will continue as normal.
If you’re over 60, on means-tested benefits or on a low income you might qualify for a social tariff. Call your current supplier to find out.
Notes to editors
The Consumers’ Attitudes and Behaviours in Managing Household Energy Costs survey was conducted by TNS-BMRB for Consumer Focus Scotland. The survey questioned 1039 people in Scotland. For a copy of Paying the Right Price, visit the Consumer Focus Scotland website www.consumerfocus-scotland.org.uk
- Consumers needing immediate support with switching should phone Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 or visit www.consumerfocus.org.uk.
- Consumer Focus Scotland previously conducted research into the needs of disadvantaged consumers (Switching Off?, November 2009) that revealed that they are often locked into high energy costs because of the barriers they face to switching. This was supported by the new survey which found that lower income households are less likely to have switched than those that are better off. To help address this imbalance the campaign has a particular focus on the needs of consumers with low household incomes.
- Consumer Focus Scotland is rooted in over 30 years of work promoting the interests of consumers, particularly those who experience disadvantage in society. We work for consumers in all aspects of their lives: as tenants, householders, patients, parents, solicitors’ clients, postal service users, energy consumers and shoppers.
Contact: Lynne Veitch