Simpler tariffs may not be cheaper

Consumers have had two major issues with their domestic energy bills in recent years. One has been the rising cost, while the other has been the lack …

Consumers have had two major issues with their domestic energy bills in recent years. One has been the rising cost, while the other has been the lack of clarity over tariffs, which has meant many could find themselves unwittingly paying more than they need to.

Efforts by the government to get the industry to at least be clearer over tariffs are well documented. But whether the new, simpler tariffs some will offer are going to cost consumers less is another matter. And for those struggling to make ends meet because they have debt issues to face at the same time, this may be a critical matter.

One reason for doubt over the benefits of simplification has been raised by price comparison site MoneySupermarket, which noted the new simpler tariffs available at British Gas to new customers are cheaper than their existing deals, but not even close to being the best on the market.

Energy channel manager at the site Scott Byrom said: "The new tariffs still aren't competitively priced compared with the options available from other energy companies. The new ‘Clear and Simple' tariff replacing ‘Standard' is around £20 cheaper, but still £38 more expensive than the cheapest standard tariff."

Of course, it remains to be seen how different suppliers will restructure and simplify their tariff ranges over time and how this impacts on their overall prices, but there is no reason to imagine that there will actually be lower cost for consumers overall, even if some can find it a bit easier to work out what is cheapest for them.

For some people, high energy bills can lead to fuel debts and like any other debt, it may help to get good advice and assistance on how to deal with creditors.

General secretary of trade union Unison Dave Prentis recently warned that while the weather is warmer now, a few months on it will be winter again and he said low-paid public sector workers may find they are struggling to afford to heat their homes because of high energy prices.

By Joe White

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