North Ayrshire and Arran MP Patricia Gibson, SNP spokesperson for Consumer Affairs has called on the UK government - to which such matters are reserved - to support struggling households as new research estimates that household energy bills have increased by an average of £32.31 per month under lockdown.
Usage of household appliances, heating and lighting while people are effectively confined to their homes has increased considerably. Price comparison site Comparethemarket found that 72% of consumers surveyed have increased energy use during the lockdown, with 48% citing family members working from home.
The site estimates the extra usage could lead to a 37% rise in average energy bills, pushing up household bills by £32.31 per month, or £387 a year.
Mrs Gibson said:
“With so many people at home during the current crisis, it is so surprise that home energy use has increased.
“There is no denying that high energy costs can seriously impact people’s financial resilience and this at a time when millions of people are already struggling on a reduced income because of the lockdown.
“People should use this time at home to check if they are getting the best deal from their domestic energy provider, although not all consumers can engage in the switching process. Suppliers need to do more to ensure that these customers are not trapped in poor deals.
“Prices can also depend on their payment method, over which consumers don’t always have control. Electricity and gas consumers across Scotland using standard credit and prepayment meters face bills approximately 10% higher than those able to use direct debit and this must be addressed.
“Across the UK, 70% of customers are on a default standard variable tariff, which means that 16 million homes are paying more for their energy than they should.
“Energy is an essential utility and the UK Government must act to protect those who are currently very poorly served and overcharged, including greater encouragement of switching to cheaper providers, particularly at this time of national crisis.”