Ovo calls for standing charge reprieve for vulnerable

7th September 2023

Ovo Energy is calling on the government to remove standing charges for the most vulnerable customers this winter and has confirmed it will be retaining the current standing charge level after the 1st October as the price cap comes into effect. The company has also renewed its calls on the government to introduce a social tariff by next year.

Ovo says that households are facing a prolonged period of high prices compounded by wider cost of living pressures that will leave millions struggling unless urgent action is taken.

Despite the Price Cap decreasing from October, the standing charge is set to increase. Energy bills will be 50% more expensive than what they were pre-crisis. New polling commissioned by by the company shows over seven in ten people in the UK (72%) think the current standing charge levied on UK bills is unfair and three quarters (76%) agree that vulnerable households should not be charged, especially during winter.

More than three quarters (80%) think the standing charge should not rise any further and energy companies should not pass on any extra cost to customers following the October price cap rise. 82% think it is unfair that the standing charge prevents people from being more energy efficient and saving money on energy bills.

Ovo is calling for a social tariff to be in place by winter 2024, to protect those who cannot afford to heat their homes through the sustained period of high prices to come. The social tariff would be targeted at those customers who are most financially vulnerable with the aim of preventing and reducing increasing levels of fuel poverty throughout the UK.

Recognising that a social tariff will take time to implement, Ovo is calling for the standing charge to be scrapped this winter for consumers who need support in the meantime.

Raman Bhatia, CEO of Ovo, said “Energy bills are set to stay high despite the recent price cap reduction. This leaves many households with stretched finances struggling to pay.  We are calling for a reform of the unpopular standing charge and a social tariff for the most financially vulnerable.”

“Our own Customer Support Package that will provide immediate support to our customers who need it most right now. By working with partners like StepChange we can continue to directly help people facing hardship this winter and beyond.”

Vikki Brownridge, CEO of StepChange said “This winter will continue to be challenging for households across the UK. The support announced by OVO will offer welcome relief to those continuing to struggle with the cost of living crisis. Government must look at all options to deliver more to support consumers – particularly those on pre-payment meters – ahead of another bleak winter. StepChange has long called for the implementation of a social tariff, which will help to shield the most vulnerable in our society from continued high energy costs.”