Energy firms urged to put people before profits as COVID-19 crisis continues



Pauline McNeill MSP

Scottish Labour has written to the UK’s ‘Big Six’ energy companies asking them what they are doing to support customers during the COVID-19 pandemic amid increased bills for customers due to increased time spent at home.

According to research by comparethemarket.com, the average energy bill will increase by £32 a month as lockdown measures continue.

Scottish Labour communities and equalities spokesperson Pauline McNeill has written to the CEOs of SSE, Scottish Power, EDF Energy, npower, E. ON and British Gas, warning them that they have a critical role in helping to rebuild Scotland’s society and economy – and in stopping more people falling into fuel poverty.

Ms McNeill asks specifically what each company is doing to assist customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills – particularly those with pre-payment meters, those in recognised vulnerable groups, and any others who are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

The text of the letter is as follows:

COVID-19 has upturned lives of everyone and dramatically affected lots of people’s finances.  Many people are stuck at home, some have lost their jobs, and they are spending more on energy despite a reduction in income. Research published last week by comparethemarket showed that the average UK energy bill will increase by £32 a month during the lockdown.

If we are to rebuild a society that rescues the economy and fabric of society, then everyone needs to do what they can to help. Energy companies can play a critical role in our return to some type of normality and crucially help to stop more people falling into fuel poverty.

I am writing to get some insights as to what policies or plans you are putting in place at npower to help those struggling at this time. I am particularly keen to know how you would help this group of people return to normality and help prevent them from spiralling into debt.

What measures is npower taking to identify and assist customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills?

Specifically, I was hoping you could respond regarding measures you are taking in terms of 3 different customer profiles:

  1. customers with pre-payment meters;
  2. vulnerable customers;
  3. customers in financial hardship due to COVID-19. 

Pauline McNeill MSP said: “People in all corners of this country have been forced to spend more time at home than they did before this crisis, and understandably, many are seeing a spike in their own energy use.

“Unfortunately, this will put a considerable dent in their pockets while these companies see a surge in their own profits.

“Without stepping up and showing some much needed compassion, energy providers will have contributed to the economic difficulty that will already be so difficult for Scotland to bounce back from.

“I’m urging each of these companies to put people before profits during this extraordinary time, and offer help and relief to those who need it.”

  • Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.


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