THE victory of the public hostility over the Government’s desire to close railway ticket offices has shown that if we stand up and fight, we can end the inequity of energy standing charges.

Following my most recent letter last month I was forwarded a reply from Ofgem, the regulator, to a Keighley resident on this issue. In this reply we were stunned to read that since November 2016, there has been no requirement for all tariffs to have a standing charge following an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority.

However it is apparent that this did not go far enough because “many suppliers use this charging structure to provide simplicity to consumers”.

What does this mean in plain English? Whilst suppliers must include standing charges as part of the tariff, they are permitted to set it at zero.

Since the introduction of the price cap, suppliers have been unable to maximise their profits other than by increasing standing charging. Energy companies do not need to price up to the energy cap but are free to charge up to it – that really is hoping for a miracle in a privatised industry.

The detailed methodology can be found in the 2018 default tariff cap review which includes all the reasons presently being used by energy suppliers to justify increases in standing charges such as infrastructure to carry energy to the home and such as, believe it or not, a headroom allowance to manage uncertainty for their costs.

The campaign to remove standing charges is working. Ofgem has launched a public consultation on the issue open until January 2024.

The public has won once, and Keighley Trades Union Council (KTUC) believes that if there is a similar response again, these abominable unjustified charges which inflict untold misery on poorer households can become a thing of the past.

The review can be found on the Ofgem website and responded to by emailing or by telephone on 020 7901 1000.

KTUC will be sending a response to this consultation urging that standing charges are abolished.

Sandy MacPherson, KTUC

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