Policy & Research
We believe no-one should have to live in a cold home. With huge rises in fuel bills and almost one million people in Scotland struggling to keep their homes warm, we have a major focus on standing up for the interests of hard-pressed energy consumers.
Consumers should be able to cut costs by switching tariff or supplier and be able to easily get advice and support to make their home more energy efficient. It is especially important that vulnerable people have the right information and support to cut their fuel bills.
Getting energy companies to do more to help vulnerable people
Through getting heavily involved in national fuel summits we are working with governments and energy companies to bring consumers concerns to the top table and identify ways to get help to vulnerable people. We are challenging energy companies to proactively direct customers to the cheapest tariff, work with local organisations to identify and help vulnerable customers’ access home energy efficiency advice and make communication for all customers simpler, clearer and more transparent.
Helping households become more energy efficient
The UK Government has announced its intention to introduce a major new programme called the Green Deal which will offer loans to households to install energy efficient measures. The initiative has the potential to revoluntise home energy however our research says more needs to be done on the detail to make it attractive to consumers in Scotland. We are constantly working to highlight what will work best for consumers to ensure that when the scheme is introduced, the Green Deal is a good deal.
We are currently carrying out a major study of consumers experiences of the energy market. This will look at a range of factors including people’s experiences of Scottish Government home energy help, energy companies and paying for their fuel.
Helping households not on the national gas grid
Nearly half a million people in Scotland do not have access to mains gas and pay more for their heating fuels. Worryingly, rates of fuel poverty for those using heating oil or liquid petroleum gas are especially high. We are now promoting the findings of our report 21st Century Heating in Rural Homes which highlights the difference installing renewable energy systems can make to lowering tenants energy bills and the importance of landlords working with tenants to make sure they understand how to get the best from their new system.
Tackling fuel poverty in Scotland
Consumer Focus Scotland is a member of the Scottish Government’s fuel poverty forum which is reviewing help and support from Scottish Government schemes to lift people out of fuel poverty and this is an important channel to highlight what works best for consumers.
- Between October 2010 and March 2012, our ‘Energy Best Deal Scotland’ campaign trained for over 700 frontline advisers, who work with vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers on a daily basis, on how to help people cut fuel costs and switch to a better deal. An evaluation of the project showed that each adviser helps at least 10 households per year save an average of £80 on their bills – with estimated total annual savings of £560,000. From 2012, Citizens Advice Scotland is now delivering Energy Best Deal to both frontline advisers and consumers.
- Our 21st Century Heating in Rural Homes report highlighted the difference installing renewable energy systems can make to lowering tenants energy bills and the importance of landlords working with tenants to make sure they understand how to get the best from their new system.
- Our ‘Reaping the Benefits of Renewables’ report highlighted that hundreds of thousands of pounds paid by renewable energy developers to local communities could be invested in improving energy efficiency and helping take thousands more Scottish homes out of fuel poverty.
- Our Energising Communities report examined how to deliver area-based energy efficiency programmes so that they provide greatest benefit and best value for money. This work directly influenced the criteria for delivery of the Universal Home Insulation Scheme, the Scottish Government’s main area-based energy efficiency programme.
Consumer Focus Scotland welcomes Ofgem’s decision to levy a significant fine on SSE for systemic failure in its direct selling operations
3 April 2013
Trisha McAuley, Senior Director at Consumer Focus Scotland said: “This is not a case of one bad apple or one rogue sales team. The problems at SSE affected the whole direct selling operation and represent a fundamental failure at one of our biggest energy companies. Other companies have also broken direct selling. This has been [...]
11 February 2013
Watchdog says more to be done to boost take-up of schemes that cut fuel bills. Energy efficiency schemes have a key role to play in tackling fuel poverty and reducing climate change emissions, watchdog Consumer Focus Scotland has told a Scottish Parliament Committee reviewing progress towards climate change targets. Nearly 1 in 3 Scottish households [...]
17 December 2012
Households in Scotland reveal the real cost of high fuel bills Over 1 in 10 (12%) households in Scotland say they are cutting back on food shopping due to high fuel bills. In a major survey of over 1000 households across Scotland, watchdog Consumer Focus Scotland has found over 1 in 3 (35%) also worry [...]
Consumer Focus Scotland response to call for views on Scottish Government’s second report on Low Carbon Scotland RPP
20 February 2013
Consumer Focus Scotland welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Scottish Government’s second report on Low Carbon Scotland. Our response recognises the importance for consumers of minimising the impacts of climate change, while at the same time, highlighting the importance of concentrating action to reduce emissions on areas which bring benefits to consumers.
20 February 2013
Keeping the heat in Scotland’s homes explores consumers’ experience of Scottish Government energy efficiency schemes, based on focus group research. The report shows that consumers were strongly positive about the service they received. However, participants experience also provides lessons to help encourage take up of future schemes so that more consumers benefit from warmer homes [...]
14 December 2012
Changed Lives explores consumers’ attitudes and responses to rising energy costs. It includes consumers’ views on the affordability of bills as well as actions in relation to switching to better deals and taking up energy efficiency measures.