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It mostly covers my work as UNISON Scotland's Head of Policy and Public Affairs although views are my own. For full coverage of UNISON Scotland's policy and campaigns please visit our web site. You can also follow me on Twitter. I hope you find this blog interesting and I would welcome your comments.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Energy prices

Recent reports indicate millions of homes in Scotland face even higher fuel bills this winter. Customers are already paying an extra £1.50 a week following a 7% rise in their bills from last month. Suppliers like Scottish Gas are preparing the ground for a second round of price increases.



THE squeeze on beleaguered workers is set to get worse after the Bank of England warned that gas and electricity bills could rise by as much as £200 a year to record levels. This could push even CPI inflation to 5% later this year. uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service, said the Bank’s predictions would mean annual fuel bills would hit an all-time high of £1279.


At the same time consumers should be aware of misleading sales techniques. Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) has been found guilty of tricking people into switching from their existing energy firms. It had claimed they were paying too much to their current suppliers when this was not the case.


It is thought to be the first time that one of the big six energy firms has been prosecuted for using dishonest sales techniques but the problem of doorstep trickery has plagued gas and electricity consumers since the industry was privatised in the 1990s.


Audrey Gallacher, of Consumer Focus, said the firm's behaviour had involved "deliberate and wilful mis-selling. Misleading doorstep energy sales have been a nightmare for consumers for years, leaving many switching to a worse energy deal. This verdict has revealed a deliberate tactic by SSE, not the behaviour of a rogue salesperson."


UNISON members in energy companies deal with the confusion caused by the so called energy market every day. Others are pressurised into sales techniques they are not comfortable with. Reform is long overdue.

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