Scottish consumer advice groups have called for more support for home energy users in a new report published by Consumer Scotland.
The Scottish Energy Insights and Coordination Group (SEIC) was convened by Consumer Scotland in August 2022 with the aim of supporting consumers and businesses facing rising energy costs.
The group consists of frontline consumer advice organisations including Advice Direct Scotland, Age Scotland, Changeworks, Citizens Advice Scotland, Energy Action Scotland, the Energy Ombudsman, the Energy Saving Trust, Inclusion Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and the Wise Group.
The report’s key recommendations are for urgent and essential improvements to customer support from energy suppliers; continued financial support for consumers in the short term and greater clarity on longer-term financial support; improvements to the delivery of energy-efficiency schemes; and more investment in energy advice services to help consumers access support.
There was a high degree of consensus amongst the group that consumers most impacted by energy affordability problems are those on prepayment meters, disabled people, consumers on lower incomes, electric heating users and women.
SEIC members also reported demand for advice services had increased significantly because of energy price rises.
The group was chaired by Lewis Shand Smith, Chair of Consumer Scotland’s Energy Consumers Committee. He said: “The speed and magnitude of change in energy markets have been unprecedented and seem likely to continue. The group believes its proposals will bring long-term benefits to consumers in Scotland, regardless of further short-term volatility in energy markets.
“While SEIC members recognise the spending and capacity constraints facing government the group concentrated on measures it considers are achievable in the short and medium terms.”
Sam Ghibaldan, Chief Executive of Consumer Scotland, said: “Consumer Scotland was pleased to be able to bring together frontline advice agencies to gain a comprehensive picture of the impact of the energy crisis on consumers.
“This insight is important to inform an effective response to the problems people are facing and we are grateful to the organisations concerned for their constructive engagement in this group.”