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Energy Costs : Price Cap / Rises / Bankruptcies / Scandals / News And Other Related Issues - Page 8 - Carers UK Forum

Energy Costs : Price Cap / Rises / Bankruptcies / Scandals / News And Other Related Issues

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
89 posts
UK energy bills rise by £1.2bn after government introduces price cap.

Consumers hit with hikes as suppliers seek to counteract impact of cap.

What a surprise.

Too much to expect OUR WATCHDOG to announce a freeze from midnight tonight to stop the privately owned energy
companies profiting by whatever announcement ... especially one in advance ?
Water firms rapped on knuckles by regulator over bill-hike plans.

Ofwat concerned over plans to charge " Significantly " more to cover utilities’ day-to-day costs.

Water companies have been rapped on the knuckles over plans to charge customers “significantly” more to cover their day-to-day costs from next year.

The water regulator said it had substantial concerns over the business plans of Thames Water, Anglian Water, SES Water and Yorkshire Water for the early 2020s.

Ofwat delivered the unexpected rebuke in a letter urging the suppliers to reconsider the cost hikes and to act “in the best interests of customers”.

In total the four companies supply water to over 23 million customers.

The regulator said it expects suppliers to deliver a “step-change in efficiency” by 2025 so they can improve their service and protect the environment while keeping bills low.

Instead, the companies are hiking the estimated cost of supplying water to their customers in an effort to spend “significantly more money than they currently spend” on business-as-usual services.

The regulator is reviewing the business plans for 2020-25 to determine how much the companies are allowed to claim back from their customers through their bills.

Water bills in England and Wales are expected to average £415 this year, up by 2% from last year, according to Water UK. The industry group said that in real terms water bills have been falling in recent years, once inflation is taken into account.

David Black, a senior director at Ofwat, said the regulator would scrutinise each and every plan in detail to make sure they were robust enough to deliver “a high-quality, affordable and resilient service to customers in the next five years and beyond”.

“We are disappointed that revised proposals from Anglian Water, SES Water, Thames Water, and Yorkshire Water have not yet risen to the challenge we have set them,” he said.

“For this reason, we have taken the step of writing to these four companies now to allow them additional time to reconsider and ensure they are in the best interests of customers.”

The surprise shaming comes just weeks before Ofwat is scheduled to deliver an official verdict on the plans, and has “raised eyebrows” within the industry, according to one senior water company source.

The water companies were not immediately available to comment.

Ofwat’s crackdown on costs comes amid growing political scrutiny of the water sector’s track record, and threats from the Labour party to renationalise the monopoly suppliers.

This year Thames Water ousted its chief executive, Steve Robertson, after a series of run-ins with the regulator over customer service, leaky pipes and investor returns.

Ofwat rebuffed Thames Water’s plans to spend £11.7bn in the first half of the next decade, saying the supplier should be able to deliver the same level of service for 20% less.

In response Thames is axing 650 roles from the company to “be as efficient and productive as possible”.

Regulator calls for £50 cut to water bills over five years.

Water bills in England and Wales are set to fall by an average of £50 between 2020 and 2025, under plans published by the industry regulator.

Ofwat said firms would also have to invest an additional £6m each day in improving services for customers.

It comes amid widespread dissatisfaction with the performance of many water companies.

Ofwat said the measures would mean "better services, a healthier natural environment and lower bills".

"These are seriously stretching goals for the sector, but we know they can be achieved," said Ofwat chief executive Rachel Fletcher.

Ofwat said the bill reductions would vary widely - falling by £7 at Hafren Dyfrdwy to £110 at Northumbrian Water compared with 2017-18 prices.

It comes after only three out of 17 water firms in England and Wales passed the last review by Ofwat, published in January.

All firms submitted plans to cut bills over the 2020-25 period, while reducing leaks and helping vulnerable customers. But only plans from Severn Trent, United Utilities and South West Water were approved.

There have also been continued problems with leaks - particularly after extreme weather events such as last year's Beast from the East icy spell.

While leaks in England and Wales are much lower than they were in the mid-1990s, progress in tackling them has slowed to a crawl since 2001.

Firms will now have to invest more in tackling leaks between 2020 and 2025, saving an amount of water equivalent to the needs of the population of Manchester, Leeds, Leicester and Cardiff.

They will also have to :

Reduce supply interruptions by almost two-thirds,
Cut pollution incidents
Reduce the number of customers with low water pressure
Help some 1.5 million customers who are struggling to pay.

It said this would add up to £12bn of new investment - over and above business-as-usual costs - or £6m per day over the period.

Water companies will be able to make representations about the proposals and the final deals will be confirmed in December.
A million homes lined up for energy bill cuts.

Ministers admit much more needs to be done to reach fuel poverty targets.

One million more homes in England could be in line for help to cut their energy bills under the government’s latest strategy to tackle fuel poverty.

Ministers plan to change the way the government calculates whether a household is fuel poor, after admitting that much more needs to be done to reach its own fuel poverty targets.

Under the government’s current definition, 2.55m households live in fuel poverty because they have low income relative to high energy bills.

Under the new definition about 3.66m households will be considered fuel poor because they meet the existing criteria and also live in draughty homes with low energy efficiency ratings.

Chris Skidmore, the energy minister, said: “The best long-term solution to addressing fuel poverty is to improve household energy efficiency.

“That is why we have set the fuel poverty target for England, and committed in our manifesto, to improve the energy efficiency of as many fuel poor households as we can,” he said.

The government plans to increase the energy efficiency standards of all fuel-poor homes to a C-banding on the energy performance certificate rating scale by 2030.

Only between 11% and 12% of fuel-poor households live in homes which reach this energy efficiency grade.

“Steady progress is being made, but much more needs to be done [to] end the blight of cold homes,” Skidmore said.

The government opened a consultation on its fuel poverty strategy after finding that the number of children living in fuel-poor homes has climbed by 12% from 2010.

National Energy Action, the fuel poverty charity, said it plans to use the consultation to urge the government to increase its public spending to meet its fuel poverty targets.

It estimates that the government will need to spend an extra £15.8bn to bridge the gap between the current standards of household energy efficiency and its targets.

The fuel poverty committee, the government’s official advisers, has suggested near-term proposals to help reduce the funding shortfall to just under £9bn.

But about £3bn of extra public spending will still be needed over the next six years if government hopes to meet its interim 2025 fuel poverty target.

Adam Scorer, NEA’s chief executive, said efforts to tackle energy efficiency are “flatlining”.

“It is important that government recognises that we are off track. Unless it commits greater, central investment to improve the homes of the fuel poor, fuel poverty targets will be meaningless and ambitions to achieve net zero carbon will be fanciful,” he said.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is putting £6bn into energy efficiency and £300m to reduce winter energy bills for 2m low-income households every year. It has also capped the price of standard energy tariffs.

But the NEA said that at this rate it would take 96 years for the government to reach its own targets to reduce fuel poverty.

Government figures published last week revealed that efforts to end fuel poverty and energy waste by making the UK’s draughty homes more efficient have collapsed by almost 85%.

The report revealed that the number of energy efficiency upgrades has fallen to an average of 10,000 a month for the six months to the end of May, less than a sixth of the upgrades undertaken in 2014.
Blackout could hike household bills as National Grid may have to pay double to prevent power cuts.

National Grid could face a £170million bill to prevent power cuts.

It may have to double what it pays contractors who provide rapid back-up power.

Nearly 1million people across England and Wales lost electricity last Friday.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/news/ ... -cuts.html
Why smart meters have left you steaming: In the bid to force customers to go digital, energy firms are hitting those who refuse with soaring bills

Energy suppliers were saving best deals for those willing to have the gadgets.

Those who don’t want one are punished with pricier gas and electricity bills.

More than 50 letters received by Money Mail were from E.on customers.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/bills ... bills.html
Fobbed off for 2 years: 90-year-old stung by £4,000 energy bill as experts warn elderly are failed by power giants.

90-year-old Fred Birkett had the meter in his modest bungalow changed.

But their bills began to skyrocket after the new device had been installed.

The following year, they paid more than £3,000 to E.On and last year £4,000.

When 90-year-old Fred Birkett was told by his energy provider that the meter in his modest bungalow needed changing he thought little of it.

Like most in the Lincolnshire area where they live, Fred and wife Dorothy – who is 88 and suffers from bone marrow cancer – were paying between £1,000 and £1,200 a year for gas and electricity but were told their meter needed to be changed.

But, to the Birketts’ alarm, their bills began to skyrocket after the new device had been installed.

The following year, they paid more than £3,000 to E.On. Then last year their combined gas and electricity bill hit an astonishing £4,000 – quadruple the price they were paying before.

Nothing about the Birketts’ energy usage has changed since before the meter was replaced. Fred says no lights are left on when not in use and the TV is never left on standby. By comparison, the annual bill for average energy use in the East Midlands last year was £1,284 and £1,318 for Britain as a whole.

Fred says: ‘I have a long list of names of people I have spoken to at E.On about this but no one has ever dealt with it. It seems as if the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. I have had two years of worry and sleepless nights. And I have been trying to shield the issues from my wife as she has enough to deal with. It really is getting me down.’

With E.On refusing to budge, Fred arranged for a boiler engineer and his electrician to review the supply of energy into his house – only to be reassured all was fine. Neither could understand the cause of such high energy bills, yet E.On kept insisting the bills were correct.

Finally at his wits’ end, Fred contacted The Mail on Sunday. We asked E.On to investigate properly to find out why Mr Birkett’s bills are so much higher than average. It has now replaced the meter once again.

Fred says: ‘It feels as if no one cares about anything except getting the day over with. Even if this is somehow my fault, I think E.On should have made the problems clear to me at some point within the last two years.’

A spokeswoman for E.On says: ‘We have being working to resolve Mr Birkett’s concerns and have spoken to Mr Birkett’s granddaughter at length.

‘We have explained that the amount of energy used is in keeping with Mr Birkett’s past usage, however due to price changes in 2018 and 2019, costs have unfortunately increased. We have offered to both test the meter as well as make a home energy efficiency visit and await to hear back.’

Experts say the poor service that Fred and Dorothy experienced at the hands of an energy giant is mirrored across the country – and the problem is particularly acute for the elderly and those in poor health.

Energy regulator Ofgem will this month publish its annual vulnerable consumers report. A recent vulnerability report commissioned by Energy UK – the trade body that represents energy suppliers – warned that the industry is ‘inadequate and inconsistent’ in its dealings with such customers who are more likely to suffer problems than their neighbours.

The problem has spiralled to the point that consumer group Citizens Advice has been forced to double the number of caseworkers on its extra help unit – the specialist team that investigates complaints linked to vulnerability – to cope with a rising number of cases in the past five years.

Consumers raised 186,057 energy problems with Citizens Advice in the 12 months to May this year, with 13,452 vulnerable cases dealt with by its special unit.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, warns that customers in need often don’t contact their suppliers for help. And when they do, they don’t always receive the right support. She says: ‘The costs of getting this wrong can be far more than just financial.’

Guy cites an example of a woman with physical and mental health problems who was rescued by the extra help unit.

She owed money to her supplier, which wanted repayments of £260 a month to clear the debt. The woman couldn’t afford such high monthly sums but could not get through to anyone at the company to discuss this, and it failed to contact her in return.

Then she received text messages threatening disconnection, aggravating her mental health conditions. Guy says the unit was able to contact her supplier on her behalf to agree a more manageable payment plan.

Other examples of bad practice raised in the vulnerability report include a pensioner with arthritis and poor eyesight who was asked to take meter readings – even though it required her to stand on a chair. And that is despite the fact she was listed on the supplier’s system as a vulnerable customer.

Anyone on a supplier’s priority service register should get help with meter readings.

It is a free service available to people who are of pensionable age, chronically sick, have a long-term medical condition, have a hearing or visual disability or are vulnerable in another way.

Want a smart meter ? Just say no !

Householders are being told to stand up against energy suppliers that try to trick them into accepting a smart meter against their will.

The roll-out of the energy-reading meter has proved chaotic since the £11billion project was launched five years ago.

Problems such as displays malfunctioning and meters going ‘dumb’ after switching supplier affect a third of all those who accept the new equipment, says comparison website uSwitch.

Many people also feel they are bullied into accepting the new gadgets – wrongly being told the change is necessary or that if they do not switch they face heftier energy bills.

There are also concerns the meters can be hacked.

Victoria Arrington, of comparison website energyhelpline, says: ‘You do not have to get a smart meter just because a company tells you to do so. There are warehouses piled high with inferior first-generation smart meters that suppliers are desperate to get rid of. Stand up to these firms and only accept a new generation meter – known as SMETS 2 – and only if you genuinely want one.’

There are now 14 million smart meters in our homes but the target to fit 26 million by the end of 2020 is not expected to be met.

The body tasked with promoting the roll-out – Smart Energy GB – claims such devices could save homes £100 a year by prompting people to change their habits. This is because the meters come with a gadget that shows how much energy is being consumed.
New warning over the dangers facing people switching to cheap energy deals.

Bills that are wrong, and late, aggressive debt collection and faulty meters are just some of the problems facing people who take out the cheapest deal no matter who it's with.

Energy customers have been warned to look further than "attention-grabbing" low tariffs following the failure of 13 firms since November.

Citizens Advice said its latest ranking of energy suppliers showed a "big gap" in customer service standards, warning that it was often "the first thing to suffer" when a firm was struggling.

Breeze, SSE and Igloo topped the charity's latest quarterly ranking while Nabuh Energy, Utilita and Toto made up the bottom three.

Eversmart Energy would have come third from the bottom if it had not ceased trading earlier this month.

Among the common problems faced by customers of suppliers at the bottom of the rankings were billing issues such as incorrect and late final bills, aggressive debt collection practices, problems with prepayment meters such as credit refunds and faulty meters.

Citizens Advice is urging people to shop around carefully when looking for an energy supplier and recommends comparing companies' customer service performance as well as prices.

Thirteen domestic energy supply companies have gone out of business since November 2018, with six suppliers failing so far this year, affecting more than 300,000 people.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: "There is still a big gap between those firms who provide an excellent service to consumers, and those who are letting people down.

"Attention-grabbing low tariffs can be a good deal, but we recommend looking deeper than just the headline price when shopping around for the best energy deals.

"We've seen six energy suppliers go bust this year. In our experience, when a company is struggling, customer service is often the first thing to suffer."
Water bills to be cut by £50 in industry crackdown.

Water firms in England and Wales will have to cut the average bill by £50 over the next five years, under plans published by the industry regulator.


A snippet :
Ofwat chief executive Rachel Fletcher said its plan was "firing the starting gun on the transformation of the water industry".

"Now water companies need to crack on, turn this into a reality and transform their performance for everyone," she added.

There has been widespread dissatisfaction with the performance of many water companies over the past few years. Criticism has centred around some high profile pollution incidents as well as leaks, water quality and high bills.

Ofwat's five-year plan, which comes into effect on 1 April 2020, has been hammered out over the course of this year. The draft determinations were set out in July.

"We've said all along this was going to be a tough review," she said. "We think this is the greenest package ever for water companies."

Population growth and climate change will be the big challenges for them in the long term, she added.

Since becoming private firms rather than public bodies, water companies have been saddled with about £50bn debt and have paid £56bn in dividends to investors.

"We have not been lax on these companies," Ms Fletcher insisted. She said it would now be harder for companies to pay shareholders dividends.

"We are seeing increasingly the penny drop with companies, some announcing they expect no dividend in the next five years."

In January, a review of water companies' performance found only three out of 17 water firms in England and Wales were of an acceptable standard.

In response the regulator drew up plans outlined in draft form in July which it said would mean "better services, a healthier natural environment and lower bills".
Breeze becomes the NINTH energy supplier of the year to go bust: 18,000 customers in limbo after £480k eco fine cripples power firm.

Breeze is the 15th supplier in recent times to cease trading.

The supplier was fined over £480k in Renewable Obligation taxes last month.

Customers have been reassured that their energy supply will continue as normal.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/bills ... omers.html
89 posts