A recent YouGov Reports publication has found that three in ten are spending 10% or more of their household income on gas and electricity, as the debate surrounding energy prices rages on in the Commons and beyond.
Of those in this group, many say they have had to make changes to their lives in order to pay the bills. Almost seven in ten (68%) say they have turned the heating down or off when they ordinarily would have left it on, 27% have spent less on food while 5% have borrowed from short term lenders in order to fulfil bills. 44% of those not in this group say they have had to reduce their usage.
Negative opinions towards energy suppliers and prices are commonplace. 84% agree that companies are quick to raise prices when their costs go up, but slower in offering discounts when they fall. Over two thirds (67%) agree that big energy suppliers act as a cartel, while 66% say the electricity and gas supply market has major problems which the government needs to address. Half (50%) believe UK household energy bills are some of the highest in Europe. Only 9% say big suppliers treat their customers fairly.
Changes to the market
In terms of changes to the market, 69% favour forcing energy supplies to reduce the number of different tariffs they offer and simplify bills. Over half (52%) are positive towards the use of one-off windfall taxes on profits of large energy supplies to help cut household bills, or to support infrastructure needs. 51% support freezing household energy prices for 20 months from May 2015 and 46% would like to see greater regulation in order to force greater competition.
Tom Rees, UK Research Manager at YouGov Reports, said; ‘Our research indicates how little consumers trust energy suppliers, the high level of dissatisfaction with the energy market andthe tangible effect on household finances. Whether thiswill lead to consumers switching providers in greater numbers remains to be seen, and the question of what the government should do will be crucial in the lead up to next May’s election.’