Scottish homes pay most for energy in Britain

Scots households are paying more for their power despite using less. Picture Tony Marsh
Scots households are paying more for their power despite using less. Picture Tony Marsh
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SCOTTISH households have the highest energy costs in Britain, according to official figures, despite the amount of energy they use falling.

The average spend in Scottish homes is £112 a month, compared with £105 in Wales and £103 in England, according to a new Office for National Statistics (ONS) report.

But all three nations are substantially lower than Northern Ireland, where the average spend is £154 a month.

The average UK household spend on energy rose by more than half in a decade, from £69 a month in 2002 to £106 in 2012, despite a 17 per cent drop in energy usage, the ONS said.

The latest ONS report – Household Energy Spending in the UK 2002-2012 – states: “UK households spent an average of £106 a month on household energy in 2012. This was a 55 per cent rise on the 2002 monthly spend, after accounting for inflation. This is despite a decline in average energy usage.”

Scotland’s high energy costs are consistent with Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) figures on energy consumption, the ONS said.

Scotland has the second highest energy consumption per thousand of population of any British region or nation – 18 per cent higher than the British average, according to the DECC – but Wales has the highest household energy consumption, at 30 per cent higher than average.

The ONS said that the higher average spend in Northern Ireland may be partly explained by the different nature and size of the energy market there, but that across the rest of the UK, any differences in the average energy spend were small.

A spokeswoman for the energy price comparison site, uSwitch, said that Scotland’s higher spend could be down to simple geography: “The reason consumers in Scotland have a higher average monthly spend on energy could be the fact that it’s colder and so they use more, or that the distribution cost is higher which would impact their bills. This is because Scotland is less densely populated and so more pipes and wires are needed to get electricity to remote houses.”

However, Citizens Advice Scotland used the figures to attack the energy companies for failing to provide a quality of service that matched the amount customers were being asked to pay, pointing out that, during the last eight years, they have been among the worst billing agencies in the country.

CAS chief executive Margaret Lynch said: “Eight years of failure to get bills right is eight years too many. Our own figures show that nearly a third, 29 per cent, of Scots calling our national helpline about energy problems were calling about incorrect billing.

“We would urge consumers to stand up for themselves and complain to their energy supplier when they are not happy with their service.”

The ONS figures come on the day Scottish housing minister Margaret Burgess announced a £60 million fund to cut fuel poverty. Councils will each get a share of £42m from the fund for this work, with the remaining £18m made available to local authorities to develop large-scale schemes.