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BLOG: Are you in the dark about changes to energy tariffs?

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21/02/2014
One of the single biggest changes to the energy market is set to come into force later this year, yet many consumers are in the dark about the changes and, more importantly, the potential impact it might have.
BLOG: Are you in the dark about changes to energy tariffs?

The Ofgem-backed Retail Market Review (RMR) is designed to ‘deliver a simpler, clearer and fairer energy market’.

The primary objective is to simplify the energy tariffs and introduce greater transparency to combat customer confusion and lack of confidence in the market.

These are ambitions that I wholeheartedly support but it is important that consumers are made aware of the imminent changes and what it means for them, otherwise too many will be left in greater confusion.

Energy suppliers have introduced four new ‘core’ tariffs per payment method but less than a fifth of people over 60 know this. All consumers will be placed on a standard tariff and have to proactively choose their new tariff to avoid paying higher charges.

The majority believe the responsibility is on the provider to communicate these changes, but in truth, it needs to be a combined effort involving providers, Government and media. Only in this way, can we increase awareness and put the consumer in control of how they respond.

Worryingly, our research has shown that seven in ten people over 60 are unaware of RMR and particularly the impact it could have on their bills while three fifths have never switched their energy provider. It is consumers like this who we need to make sure are aware of these changes and are helped to act to mitigate any impact on their finances.

As an organisation, Age UK Enterprises has long been committed to championing savvy consumers, aiding their understanding of a range of products and services and ensuring they secure the right fit for their circumstances. Communication is key in combating lack of awareness and mitigating consumer concerns. There is a responsibility on all of us to get this right.

From an individual standpoint, I would also encourage consumers to ask questions and research. Think carefully about energy needs and what the right tariff or tariff structure for them is. The RMR changes are designed to improve the market and put the consumer in the driving seat. For that to really work, consumers need to be proactive and engaged with the process to secure a better deal and be a beneficiary of the changes.

Energy is a hot topic at the moment but more attention must be paid to the changes that are being brought in with RMR to ensure consumers aren’t left in the dark.

Gordon Morris is managing director of Age UK Enterprises

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