Consumers reject claims they enjoy cheap energy, says Energy Advice Line
British consumers were unimpressed with new figures showing they enjoyed some of the cheapest gas and electricity in Europe, according to the Energy Advice Line.
Julian Morgan, managing director of the price comparison, switching and advice service for energy users, said the figures from the Department for Energy & Climate Change did not present a complete picture of how consumers were battling in the UK energy market.
According to the figures, the UK is the cheapest market of 15 major European nations, excluding Spain, in terms of electricity prices. In terms of gas, Britain is the second cheapest market in Europe after Finland.
However, Mr Morgan agreed with claims by OFGEM that energy prices had risen more than they should have in recent years. Government figures showed prices had jumped by over 50% in the past 5 years.
“League tables such as this that simply list average energy prices in different countries mean nothing to consumers who have been unable to afford to stay warm in recent years,” Mr Morgan said.
“Both domestic and business energy users have faced significant increases in their energy bills year after year, to the point where heating their homes has become unaffordable for many people.
“What these figures do not show is that some people have risked their health by turning off the heating and going cold because they can’t afford to stay warm. Among the hardest hit have been the most vulnerable in our community, for whom every penny counts.”
Mr Morgan questioned whether other European countries with more expensive energy prices, such as Denmark, Germany and Italy, had thousands of people needlessly dying due to the cold as had happened in the UK.
Last year, official figures revealed that 31,000 people had died because of the freezing weather last winter, with “excess winter deaths” rising by 29% in 2012/2013 to their highest level for 4 years.
“Colder Scandinavian countries such as Denmark, where electricity is the most expensive in Europe according to these figures, manages to avoid tolls like this,” Mr Morgan said.
“UK consumers take no comfort from figures like these that suggest they should be grateful for energy prices they can’t afford.”
The survey showed that US consumers paid the least for their electricity, with consumers in Denmark paying the most.