Sat 5 Feb, 2022

Highland homes and businesses pay the highest electricity tariffs in the country Anne Thomas

Fuel prices are crippling many households and small businesses already and yet are set to rise.  Highland and Islands Greens want standing charges removed from bills, and have written to the UK Government requesting it to take the necessary action to scrap them. We have also written to The Highland Council Leader, inviting them to join the campaign to urge the UK government to remove them.

Standing charges are the same or more for a studio flat or a mansion and cost an average £100 a year per domestic connection for electricity; with gas as well, the charge doubles to about £200 but can be a lot more. This arrangement makes gas and electricity proportionately more expensive for lower-use households and businesses compared to higher-use ones. They are also unfair for householders who generate a lot of their own energy e.g. through solar panels. VAT is charged afterwards.  

Scrapping standing charges would help those struggling with bills and stop penalising those who maximise their energy efficiency. They are a modifiable contributor to fuel poverty. Here in the Highlands and Islands a shocking one in three are in this category. Even when people are struggling so much that they turn their energy off they still have to pay standing charges or face disconnection. People on pre-payment meters often have very little choice of tariff. 28p standing charge per day for electricity and 36p for gas are quoted as standard, (£233 per year). If people have had gas off e.g. over the summer they have to feed the meter to cover all the standing charges which have mounted up before they receive any energy. Even when businesses are seasonal or were shut during the pandemic they have to pay standing charges even when not using energy.  

Prospective Black Isle Candidate Anne Thomas says "Highland homes and businesses pay the highest electricity tariffs in the country, have the coldest weather and least hours of winter daylight in addition to the regressive standing charge. It is not surprising there is such a high level of fuel poverty and small businesses find energy bills such a struggle, especially as Covid has caused the income of many to crash. We are calling on the UK government to scrap the standing charges. We also support the Courier's 'End the Chill' campaign to remove the unfair electricity tariff 2p per unit surcharge here".

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