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“Energy suppliers hold £3bn of customers’ credit”

Research by Uswitch finds that 16 million households have £3 billion in credit with energy suppliers, with the average owed per home at £210

Energy providers are sitting on £3 billion of households’ money, with 16 million households in credit, according to research by Uswitch.

On average, homes have £210 left with their supplier.

According to the study, the surplus credit is £3.4 billion lower than last year, attributed to higher energy bills compared to the previous winter when households received £400 government support towards power bills.

Despite the surplus, only a quarter of consumers plan to ask for their credit to be refunded.

One in seven consumers have balances over £300 and 5% have more than £500 with their energy provider.

Nearly four million households owe £771 million to their energy providers, with an average debt of £194 per home.

Newcastle leads as the UK’s energy-credit capital, with homes storing an average of £315 with their suppliers, while Bristol residents have the least, with only £176.

The research indicates that 44% of households attribute the increase in their credit balance to overestimation in direct debit payments, while 40% have consciously reduced energy usage.

However, more than half of households with credit intend to leave the money with their supplier to reduce monthly payments.

An Energy UK spokesperson told Energy Live News: “While the figures seem to show that many customers have healthy credit balances, they do also significantly understate the amount of customer debt which currently stands at £3.2 billion and remains a huge concern for the industry.

“The use of credit balances is closely regulated, with Ofgem having the power to require these to be ringfenced, as ultimately this is money that must be returnable to customers.

“Suppliers do aim to set direct debits at a level that means accounts are in balance after winter – when higher energy usage can cancel out the lesser amount used over summer.

“Such calculations are based on factors like previous consumption so if there is a mild winter and customers consequently use less energy than expected that can lead to higher credit balances.”

An Ofgem spokesperson said: “Most customers build up credit during the warmer summer months which helps spread costs through the cold winter months when they use more energy.

“However, while reasonable credit balances can help people manage their bills, consumers have the right to request credit back and should discuss their individual circumstances with their supplier. 

“We have strengthened the rules around direct debits to prevent excessive accumulation of consumer credit, and have implemented reporting requirements to notify us when a supplier may be over-relying on customer credit balances.

“If necessary we can, and will, tell suppliers to take action including ringfencing funds. If customers are requesting credit is returned but not receiving it, they should complain to the supplier and then the independent Energy Ombudsman.”

Energy Live News has contacted the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero for comment.

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