Energy and Water
Consumer Focus is the statutory consumer champion for the UK, tackling the issues that matter to consumers and aiming to give consumers a stronger voice. They were concerned about the ways in which consumer energy bills were being inflated in order to subsidise broader social goals such as renewable energy, support for vulnerable energy-poor customers or improved household energy efficiency. As part of their Who Pays? Programme, Consumer Focus needed a reliable assessment of consumers’ preferences, and levels of support or opposition for the various social policy outcomes that are subsidised in this way.
SYSTRA undertook a research study into energy consumers’ views involving a survey of approximately 1,000 energy customers.
Customers were asked a complex set of questions about their circumstances and preferences and were asked to engage with two ‘choice experiments’. Careful piloting and simplification of the presentation materials meant that the complexity of the survey did not interfere with results. Our research showed that while there was an understandable reluctance for energy bills to increase, there was a surprising degree of support for using energy bills to fund social support efforts. The average consumer, for example, is willing to pay an additional 10% on their energy bill so that vulnerable households can receive an annual energy discount of £184.
The research has been used by Consumer Focus to advise the Government on how the UK should continue its efforts to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint in a fair and equitable way. .