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Public calls for action on soaring energy bills

It’s thumbs down from consumers as the government comes under increasing pressure to curb energy bill costs

thumbs downFour in five people in the UK think the government needs to take action to curb rising energy bills and prevent even more people falling into fuel poverty.

A new Survation poll commissioned by the Mirror newspaper has found that 79% of the public believe that the coalition government needs to step in to ensure that they are not subject to even more price increases that place an additional squeeze on household finances.

It comes after representatives from the Big Six energy suppliers in the UK were grilled by an MP Energy Select Committee on the profits they are making at the expense of UK consumers.

The heated debate between ministers and representatives from the major energy suppliers saw the companies defend their profit margins, but the Survation poll found that consumers remain worried about escalating costs.

Rising concern

Some 56% of consumers stated that they are outright worried about the cost of their energy bills, with 27% saying it is a very strong concern.

There appear to be geographical variations when it comes to the level of concern among bill payers, with worries over the cost of energy highest among those in the north and Scotland, where 65% of people are anxious.

Among those in the lower socioeconomic band, which comprises those on lower incomes, 71% of people are concerned about their ability to pay their energy bills, though even 43% of higher earners share those worries.

With the cost of energy skyrocketing in recent years and the average annual dual fuel bill now exceeding £1,400, consumers are keen to avoid any more increases, with the majority believing that the government should act to ensure this.

Better regulation

Many people also believe that the energy regulator, Ofgem, needs to do more to hold energy providers to account for their pricing decisions, with 55% claiming the watchdog is “toothless” and “not fit for purpose” for failing to take pre-emptive action.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has been a long-term critic of Ofgem and believes the energy regulator needs to be scrapped and a new system put in place to ensure consumers are protected.

Commenting on the survey, shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint said it should be a “wake up call” for prime minister David Cameron.

“People are sick of this government letting the energy firms rip people off,” she said.

“Instead of bogus promises to put everyone on the cheapest tariff, Mr Cameron should back Labour’s plans to scrap the useless Ofgem and create a tough new regulator with the power to force these companies to cut their prices.”

  • Michael Martin-Smith

    Cut-throat competition based on fear of loss of franchise is the only way; we must FORCE energy prices’ reduction by 30-50% across the board, without gimmicks . Cartels are illegal under EU rules- a failure to slash prices within a year should be taken as proof of a cartel in being, and result in EU action.
    Failing that, millions of people have a cause to vote UKIP