A new survey carried out by YouGov has found that two thirds of consumers believe energy companies act as a cartel. The vast majority (84%) felt that suppliers were quick to raise prices when costs go up, but not so quick to do the opposite when costs fall.
A further 66% of respondents said they want the Government to take action and reform the energy sector. Just over half felt that Labour leader Ed Miliband’s pledge to freeze energy prices for 20 months should Labour win the general election was a good idea.
Price rises put households under pressure
Consumers are particularly distrustful of energy suppliers following last winter’s price rises, which saw the average household energy bill increase by more than £50.
In fact, according to the survey, three in 10 households now spend 10% or more of their income on energy bills. Of the latter, 68% have taken to turning down and switching off the heating. Measures they had not had to take before.
In addition, customer complaints in relation to the energy companies hit record levels in April, with the Ombudsman Services reporting 3,892 incidents. The figure represents a threefold increase on the same period last year.
‘Research indicates how little consumers trust energy suppliers’
Speaking on the survey, Tom Rees YouGov Reports UK research manager said: “Our research indicates how little consumers trust energy suppliers, the high level of dissatisfaction with the energy market and the tangible effect on household finances.
“Whether this will lead to consumers switching providers in greater numbers remains to be seen, and the question of what the government should do will be crucial in the lead up to next May’s election.”