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Gocompare.com comments on the Office for National Statistics’ Expenditure on Household Fuels report

03 March 2014

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has today released a report titled Expenditure on Household Fuels, 2002-2012, showing trends in spending on gas and electricity over the period, including:*

  • UK households spent more on household energy in 2012 compared with 2002, but used less
  • Average household spending on gas increased 56%, while electricity increased 43% from 2002-2012
  • The average household spent 5.1% of its income on household energy in 2012, up from 3.3% in 2002
  • The poorest fifth of households spent 11% of their income on household energy in 2012, up from 8% in 2002
  • Households in Northern Ireland have higher average energy spend than households in the rest of the UK.

Commenting on the findings of this report, Jeremy Cryer, energy spokesperson at Gocompare.com, said: “The report from the ONS confirms what we all know – that energy prices are approaching unsustainable levels for large swathes of the population. That the average monthly spend on energy rose from £69 to £106 between 2002 and 2012, while consumption fell by 17%, clearly points to energy price rises as being the main reason behind why people are now paying much more for their heating and lighting. And the grim truth is that, since 2012, this trend has shown no signs of abating.

“While the ONS’s report reveals that the average household spent 5.1% of its disposable income on energy bills in 2012, up from 3.3% in 2002, it also found that the poorest fifth of UK households spent 11% of their income on gas and electricity. A survey we have conducted echoes this, revealing that 28% of those supplied by the ‘big six’ – who all recently inflicted price hikes on their customers – spend more than 10% of their disposable income on energy. Worryingly, 6% said that they spend more than a fifth of their earnings on gas and electricity bills.**

“But while energy price rises, which are out of people’s control, are the biggest contributing factor to growing bills, there are steps householders can take to avoid paying more for their energy than they have to, and it starts with finding the right tariff. Over a third (36%) of the people we surveyed said they were on their big six supplier’s standard tariff, and a further 30% admitted that they didn’t know if they were or not. And as an energy provider’s standard tariff is usually the very worst option available, there are clearly lots of people who need to shop around and switch to a better tariff.

“Anyone languishing on a standard tariff, or who isn’t sure if they are on the best deal for them or not, should grab their latest bill, go to a comparison site, and make sure they are on the right tariff. If you find a better deal, check if your existing provider will impose termination fees for leaving them, and then consider voting with your wallet and switching there and then.”

For more information or to compare energy tariffs, visit: www.gocompare.com/gas-and-electricity.

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Notes to editors:

* Facts and figures taken from the Office for National Statistics report on Expenditure in Household Fuels, 2002-2012, available here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/household-income/expenditure-on-household-fuels/2002---2012/index.html

** Based on research commissioned by Gocompare.com and carried out by Consumer Intelligence on 13 and 14 December 2013 with 2,016 UK adults who are customers of the ‘big six’ energy suppliers (British Gas, ScottishPower, E.ON, npower, EDF, and SSE). Region, age and gender breakdowns of the survey results are also available.