Smart meters could pass on extra costs to low earners

Plans to roll out 53million smart meters across the UK hold “very big risks” for consumers, according to Consumer Focus. The campaign group is worried that although there will be […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Plans to roll out 53million smart meters across the UK hold “very big risks” for consumers, according to Consumer Focus. The campaign group is worried that although there will be benefits, these might pass on extra costs to low earners.

The rollout of meters, which pass information about energy use directly between homes and energy providers, has been touted as a way for UK residents to cut their bills by increasing their awareness of how much electricity they waste. It is expected to cost around £12billion, with energy companies footing the bill before passing that charge on to customers.

Giving evidence at the public accounts select committee hearing in the Commons this week, Christine Farnish, chair of the consumer body said: “We see some very big risks in the way in which this huge sophisticated programme is rolled out over the next eight to nine years.”

She warned about the possibility of “Missed opportunities for consumers to save money, unfair costs and disproportionate costs being passed on to consumers, because they are the ones that end up funding all this development.”

Vulnerable or low-income consumers could also be at risk of having to pay disproportionately more, she suggested.