Energy prices become top worry for consumers

Energy prices have now become the top concern for British consumers, alongside fuel prices and public spending cuts, according to a survey by Which?.

Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of the 2000 people questioned for the Which? Consumer Insights Tracker said they were worried about energy prices – a rise of eight percentage points since September.

Distrust in gas and electricity suppliers rose by 6 percentage points to 35 per cent – making them more distrusted than banks and mobile networks. Only car dealers fared worse at 55 per cent.

Trust in the energy sector dropped by 3 percentage point to 32 per cent. Out of the 13 sectors examined by the survey just three scored lower – train companies, car dealers and long-term financial products.

Towards the end of last year British Gas, EDF, SSE, Good Energy and Utilitia all announced price freezes for the 2016/17 winter season.

Which? managing director for home and legal services Alex Neill said: “With price hikes due later this year, temporary fixes from suppliers are just not enough to help people stuck on the most expensive deals. Energy companies will have no one else to blame but themselves if the government and the regulator have to step in and intervene.”

As part of its Fair Energy Prices campaign, the consumer group has invited suppliers to submit plans on how they could help their customers to switch from expensive standard variable tariffs to cheaper offers. There is now less than a month to go until the deadline but not a single supplier has published a plan yet.

“The clock is ticking for energy companies,” added Neill. “With… trust in the industry falling, more needs to be done to move people onto better deals.”