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Double-digit tariff reductions could help more than a million fuel vulnerable households

28th April 2015 Print

Big six energy suppliers could have helped to lift one million households out of fuel vulnerability by making bigger cuts to standard tariffs, according to Fuel vulnerable homes spend more than 10% of their annual income on energy.

The new analysis, published two days before SSE implements the final reduction of the big six to standard gas deals, reveals that the average big six dual fuel standard plan will have fallen a mere 2.2%from Thursday (30th April). Following SSE’s cut, reductions from all the big six suppliers will lift 287,000 from a total of 4.8 million British homesout of fuel vulnerability, but still leave a staggering 4.5 million households spending more than £1 in £10 of their income on energy bills. has long argued for double-digit price cuts to reflect the 23% reduction in wholesale gas and 18% cut in wholesale electricity costs in the 12 month period to winter 2015/16. The new analysis also suggests that an average 10% reduction in big six standard tariffs would lift a staggering 1.3 million homes out of fuel vulnerability – over a million more than have benefitted from the modest cuts so far this year.

SSE will implement a 4.1% reduction to its standard gas tariff from Thursday, following cuts in January by E.ON and in February by British Gas, ScottishPower, npower and EDF Energy. However, just half (49%)of consumers believe these reductions will make any real difference to the amount they pay for energy. With more than 14 million homes admitting to going cold at some point this winter to cope with sky-high energy bills, is repeating its calls for suppliers to make bigger cuts to help more consumers struggling with the cost of energy.

It is estimated that around 60% of customers – some 15.8 million homes – are on standard variable energy tariffs. Following cuts by all six major suppliers to standard gas plans, the average dual fuel bill has dropped by a mere £28 a year to £1,237 from £1,265 at the start of January 2015.

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy, says: “These figures show just how disappointing this year’s price cuts have been for hard-pressed consumers. With the average big six standard tariff customer just £28 a year better off, it’s little wonder that many consumers see the reductions as little more than token gestures.

“Despite the recent reductions, 4.5 million fuel vulnerable households are still left spending a staggering 10% or more of their income on energy. Given the significant reduction in wholesale costs – which make up around half of our energy bills – it’s now high time for proper, double-digit reductions for consumers.

“We urge suppliers to look at what more they can do to help customers – many of whom have admitted to going cold this winter simply to cope with energy prices. We believe the Government can also help by extending the Warm Home Discount scheme to help more people struggling with energy costs.

“In the meantime, consumers should take control of their bills by using less, wasting less and paying less for their energy. With £340 a year difference between the average big six standard tariff and the cheapest fixed deal on the market, consumers could be better off making their own price cut by switching.”