Scottish Energy Retail Summit: update on collaborative action

Updates on progress made since the first Scottish Energy Summit on 23 August 2022.

On 23 August, following the Ofgem announcement that energy price caps would be reviewed on a quarterly basis, and ahead of the subsequent 26 August price cap announcement, the First Minister called for an emergency energy retail summit with energy suppliers, advice organisations, third sector organisations and business representatives. The aim of the summit was to discuss the actions we could take within the powers available to Scotland to mitigate the impact of the rising energy prices and the subsequent costs of living on Scottish consumers, particularly those living within vulnerable circumstances.

At the summit the group reached a consensus that:

  • energy supply companies would:
    • pursue all possible options to provide enhanced support to consumers who are in difficulty, including working with advice agencies and government to improve the support available to consumers, and protect customers from disconnection.
    • work with the Scottish government to agree upon a package of support measures to be made available to consumers
  • The Scottish Government would:
    • provide additional financial support to advice agencies
    • consider, as part of its emergency budget review, further support for households and businesses
    • undertake a public information campaign to promote energy efficiency measures alongside sources of help and support for those in difficulty

The consensus of the group was to call upon the UK Government, as holder of the relevant powers, to:

  • immediately cancel any further energy price increase for domestic consumers, and work with the regulator and energy companies to put in place the funding to support this
  • provide significant additional support to help households and businesses meet current energy bills and the impact of inflation more generally
  • take action to support small and medium sizes businesses, and other organisations not covered by the price cap, from rising energy costs
  • reform the energy market for the longer term to prevent this situation occurring again in the future

In the weeks following the summit, the relevant organisations have worked together to form a package of support measures which will help:

  • enhance support for consumers who are in difficulty, and
  • improve help and advice available to consumers

The Scottish Government have:

  • allocated almost £3 billion this financial year to help families and households face the increased cost of living, including doubling our Fuel Insecurity Fund, to help those most at risk, to £20 million
  • announced an additional £1.2m of funding to Advice Direct Scotland, Citizen’s Advice Scotland, Home Energy Scotland and Business Energy Scotland to further support domestic and non-domestic consumers
  • engaged with suppliers and local authorities on energy efficiency schemes while working to increase the number of households benefitting from our Area based Schemes
  • progressed development of campaigns to highlight our schemes and support available, including Home Energy Scotland and Warmer Homes Scotland
  • put forward our asks of the UK Government and continue to call for additional support for those most at risk

In October, the UK Government announced the Energy Price Guarantee for domestic consumers and the Energy Bills Relief Scheme for businesses. Following these announcements, the group reconvened on 20 October to discuss the implications on suppliers, advice organisations, the third sector, businesses and consumers, including those off-grid who are not part of an energy supply contract.

The following themes were identified for the Scottish Government, energy suppliers, advice organisations and business groups to explore in more detail moving forward:

  • The Scottish Government will work with Energy UK and other organisations to increase smart meter coverage in Scotland, with a particular focus on rural areas
  • partners will share data with the Scottish Government to help inform calls upon the UK Government, to provide clarity on continued support for domestic and non-domestic consumers as soon as possible
  • The Scottish Government will work with the business sector to explore how businesses can be supported with energy costs, within our devolved powers
  • ensuring maximum coordination of energy efficiency information and advice services to all consumers

To fully realise the aims of these work streams the Scottish Government has called on the UK Government to take further action with a particular focus on:

  • accelerating the review of the Energy Price Guarantee scheme to ensure domestic consumers have clarity on energy costs after 31 March next year
  • additional targeted support to be delivered to support vulnerable consumers who are already struggling to pay their bills and heat their homes
  • doing more to support households across Scotland who rely on alternative fuels to heat their homes
  • clarify protections for businesses following 31 of March 2023 as soon as possible to ensure businesses in Scotland have the certainty and security they need to operate with confidence, while identifying 'vulnerable non domestic customers' and offering all vulnerable SME’s guaranteed support past March 2023
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