Energy deals for poor 'more costly than others'Energywatch finds some 'social tariffs' too dear

16 January 2008

Energy deals offered to help the poorest customers are in some cases more expensive than other deals, a new report has found.

Energywatch found the British Gas social tariff was £96 more expensive than its cheapest deal for gas and electricity.

Scottish power’s social tariff was £19 more expensive and Npower was £26 more.

Social tariff

Meanwhile, EDF Energy's social tariff was £151 cheaper than its lowest offer as was Scottish and Southern Energy’s at £71 less per year.

The watchdog looked at the generosity of companies’ social tariff, which is meant for the most vulnerable customers, when compared the lowest priced gas and electricity deals offered by each firm.

Lowest rate

Energywatch analyst Richard Bates said: ‘Customers on social tariffs must be assured that they are on a companies’ lowest rate regardless of who their supplier is. This is particularly important as those customers are unlikely to be able to switch to the supplier’s, or a competitors’ cheapest online tariff.’

At a time when rising prices are pushing average bills to over the £1000 mark, Energywatch says there’s a huge gulf in energy companies’ commitment to helping the estimated four million British households living in fuel poverty.

Savings

Fuel poverty is where a households needs to spend more than 10% of income on fuel to be properly heated.

Which? runs its own impartial energy price comparison site - Switch with Which? - where you can check which supplier offers the best deal for your gas and electricity.

Users of Switch with Which? are currently enjoying average savings of £200 each year on their energy bills. The figure comes from those who used the site to switch in the 12 months to July 2007.

British Gas

British Gas was praised in the Energywatch report for spending a bigger proportion of its turnover on social tariffs than rival energy firms at 0.49% .

It also offered the highest number of social tariffs as a proportion of its customer base compared to the other suppliers surveyed by Energywatch.