Energy Tarrif and Fuel Poverty

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Mark Drakeford: “Pa asesiad y mae’r Gweinidog wedi’i wneud o’r cysylltiad rhwng cymhlethdod tariffau cwmnïau ynni a thlodi tanwydd yng Nghymru

[What assessment has the Minister made of the relationship between energy company tariff complexity and fuel poverty in Wales.]

John Griffiths: Reducing the cost of energy bills is a key factor in reducing the number of people in Wales living in fuel poverty. The complexity of the current tariff system makes it more difficult for consumers to compare different tariffs and find the cheapest tariff to meet their needs.

Mark Drakeford: Have you had a chance to look at recent research by the Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets that suggests that tariff complexity is particularly off-putting for the least well-off customers and for pensioner households in particular? Do you agree that the persistence of tariff complexity is not best explained by market failure but by the deliberate actions of energy companies seeking to attract the customers that they like and put off those that they would rather not have? Finally, do you welcome the commitment made by Ed Miliband to guarantee that pensioner households with someone over the age of 75 would be charged the lowest energy prices, thus saving such households £200 a year on the costs that they currently incur?

John Griffiths: I very much agree that more needs to be done to identify vulnerable customers and to ensure that the vulnerable and the elderly get the cheapest tariffs available. It is incumbent upon the suppliers to ensure that that is the case. The onus should not be on the customers, but on the suppliers, to ensure that, where households contain the elderly and the vulnerable, they are automatically on the cheapest tariff. I was pleased to put that position forward in the Welsh Government’s response to Ofgem’s recent consultation, ‘The Retail Market Review: Domestic Proposals’.