We’ve heard from thousands of people who are dreading a cold winter. The financial burden of heating their homes sends a shiver down their spine. Here are just some of their comments.
More than 335,000 people have signed our Fair Energy Prices campaign, with many of you sharing your experiences and concerns as we prepare for the winter months.
Protecting the vulnerable
Antoinette told us how she’s too scared to put the heating on:
‘I’m finding it difficult to pay my bills. I’m 62, disabled, and I’m too scared to put my heating on when it’s cold for fear of what my gas and electricity bills will be. I’ve started to go to bed early and get up late to keep warm. This is no way for someone of my age to have to live for four months of the year.’
Antoinette’s story and thousands like her are why we’re calling on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to use its competition inquiry to make the energy market fairer for consumers.
Eating or heating
Nicola recently told us on Facebook that her heating bill is a cause for concern this winter:
‘I too fear the heating bills, my home has no central heating so I have to have electric heaters or coal fire. I’m a single parent and have my 82-year-old mother with me, she was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer on Wednesday of this week, she has to keep warm and the heating is on constantly, of course I must keep it on for her sake. I do work full time, but the heating bill is terrifying me.’
While Joanne is juggling childcare and trying to keep up with her energy bills:
‘I have a young daughter and want to keep the home warm and be able to cook proper meals for her without worrying about the size of the fuel bill.’
Struggling to pay energy bills
Terence told us how heating his home is a financial struggle:
‘This winter we could only afford to heat a single room. It almost broke me.’
And Patricia is doing all she can to keep her energy bills down:
‘I am a disabled pensioner. My money does not stretch as far as having the heating on as much as I should at my age, and I am now behind on payments. It takes all summer to get the bill part way down, then it starts all over again. I try to go as long as I can without putting it on and I go to bed early with two hot water bottles. I thought this was 2015 – it doesn’t feel like it to me.’
Stories like these put the issue of energy prices in a very stark light. The CMA not only needs to cut the number of people on expensive tariffs and make switching easier, it needs to penalise those suppliers who don’t protect the most vulnerable.
The CMA will be judged on the legacy of its inquiry – if it doesn’t deliver a fairer energy market for people like Antoinette, Nicola, Joanne, Terence and Patricia, it will have failed.
[UPDATE 14 January 2016] – It’s been reported today that wholesale gas and electricity prices have fallen by nearly a third in a year, hitting a five-year low. And yet energy companies have failed to lower bills. Only British Gas has cut prices in the last six months, and by just 5%. The rest of the Big Six didn’t follow suit.
Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:
‘It’s extremely disappointing millions of us are still paying way over the odds for our energy. Consumers will rightly ask why their bills haven’t been cut dramatically when wholesale costs have dropped.’
And there are faces behind the numbers, with many of you telling us how you struggle to pay your energy bills, like Jill:
‘My income is fixed but prices aren’t. Do I eat and freeze or stay warm and starve?’
We’re calling on the Government and the CMA to protect vulnerable customers from being ripped off and to deliver fair energy prices. Do you think energy bills should be cut in line with falling wholesale costs? Tell us what you think so we can share your views with the CMA.