Energy bills are the most concerning household expense that Brits face, according to a survey carried out by Ernst & Young.
A survey of 2,000 consumers discovered that almost a third of Brits were more concerned about their energy bills rather than mortgage payments or food bills. Of those surveyed, one in 10 admitted that they had missed one or more energy bill payments in the last year.
Tony Ward, head of Power & Utilities at EY said: “Despite recent price reductions, it remains the case that consumers are still more concerned about affording their home energy costs than other key expenses such as mortgages.”
However, 48% of respondents indicated that they would be willing to pay more on their energy bills if it was used to fund insulation measures, improve energy infrastructure and provide a better service. Almost a third of those surveyed (27%) said that they would be willing to pay an extra £6 a month to help fund the development of renewables, with 22% confirming that they would be happy to pay an extra £5 a month to help combat climate change.
Ward continued: “Our survey reveals a perhaps surprising degree of willingness to pay more for our energy. But only when the purpose is clear there is a strong link to investment for the future health of our energy system.”
Despite consumers craving clarity over the makeup of energy bills, there remains a low understanding of what components make up consumers’ energy bills. Only 12% of those surveyed said that they fully understood their energy bills, with 39% indicating that they had a “somewhat clear” understanding of their bill.
Ward believes that the energy consumers are becoming more proactive, enacting a step change in the way energy providers must operate. He explained: “The scale and breadth of change that the energy industry is currently delivering is the greatest ever and shows no sign of letting up. As the majority of consumers take a more active interest in their energy, their supplier and what their money is being used for it is vital that industry and government alike take responsibility to empower and inform them. This will not only equip consumers with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions, but also help to gain their support for the reform that the UK’s energy infrastructure needs.”
The affordability of energy has become a key battle line in UK politics ahead of the General Election. The Labour Party has accused the Coalition government of failing to control energy suppliers who have experienced a significant drop in wholesale costs but passed on meagre cuts to consumers. The Labour Party has promised to introduce a price freeze on energy bills if it is elected and to boost the powers of Ofgem to force suppliers to translate wholesale energy cost reductions to consumer bills.