Fuel-poorest Scots lose more than English consumers in not switching from ‘Scottish’ power suppliers

Thousands of Scottish consumers are paying hundreds of pounds a year more than they have to for their household gas and electricity – out of either laziness, ignorance or misplaced loyalty to Scottish Power and SSE – or all three.

These two companies are members of the Big Six providers which dominate the British retail energy market – and have even higher market penetration in their ‘home’ markets among naively loyal Scots consumers.

And according to the new figures from the Energy Switch Guarantee, Yorkshire is home to the price-smartest energy customers in Britain.     

The figures (see table below) show the number of households in each Westminster parliamentary constituency that have switched electricity supplier in the 12 months from September 2016 to August 2017.

Those in Yorkshire are top, while consumers in the following 10 Scottish parliamentary constituencies are at the bottom – meaning they lose most by switching suppliers least often, or at all.

Bottom ten switching constituencies – Sep 2016- Aug 2017
Constituency Switches % of switches Households
Orkney and Shetland 1,312 5% 23,910
Ross, Skye and Lochaber 2,631 7% 37,668
Argyll and Bute 3,700 7% 50,881
Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross 2,532 8% 33,657
Cities of London and Westminster 5,979 8% 78,705
Na h-Eileanan an Iar 1,289 8% 15,781
Glasgow Central 5,229 9% 57,072
Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey 4,961 9% 52,682
Hayes and Harlington 4,103 10% 42,549
Dumfries and Galloway 5,105 10% 52,025


Ironically, the Western Isles and Shetland  – which are among the lowest of the low for supplier-switching – are also home to the highest rates of fuel-poverty in Britain.

The figures also reveal that Scottish customers are amongst those changing providers less frequently – Orkney and Shetland appears at the other end of the table with five percent of all properties (1,312) having switched providers. 

In total Scotland has eight of the areas with the least amount of switchers which also include Ross, Skye and Lochaber; Argyll and Bute; Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross; Cities of London and Westminster; Na h-Eileanan an Iar; Glasgow Central; Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey; Hayes and Harlington and Dumfries and Galloway.

The presence of the City of London and the London burgh of Westminster in the ‘lowest switching’ table is almost certainly because owners of properties in these areas – even if they are resident there – include some of the world’s richest home-owners and absentee landlords, as well as many MPs in the Westminster parliament.

Leeds North West contains the UK’s most prolific switchers with 23 percent (8,444) of all households having looked to save money by switching provider during this time.

Yorkshire leads the way when it comes to cash conscious energy customers – accounting for seven of the top ten switching areas which also feature Leeds North West, Haltemprice and Howden, Newcastle upon Tyne East, Sheffield Hallam, Leeds North East, Leeds East, Leeds Central, Peterborough, Plymouth Moor View and Pudsey.

The Energy Switch Guarantee – a voluntary industry initiative launched in June last year – is a set of commitments made by suppliers to ensure that switching energy supplier is simple, speedy and safe for customers. It is on track to cover over 90 percent of the market by the end of the year.

Tina Tietjen, Independent Chairman of the Energy Switch Guarantee, said: “More than 4.5 million customers have switched energy supplier so far this year and taken action to reduce their bills by hundreds of pounds a year. 

“Our figures show that whilst some areas of the country – like Yorkshire in particular – are taking advantage of the potential savings on offer, others are missing out.

“There are huge savings to be made and the Energy Switch Guarantee provides customers with extra reassurance that the process will be simple, speedy and safe.”

5 Dec 2017

Pixie Energy

Pixie logo Pixie Energy is an incubator and a facilitator of strategic research and project work, focusing on energy regulation, policy and markets at the local and national level. Find out more about Pixie Energy here.

Local Energy Matters: Scotland

Local Energy Matters: Scotland is a free-to-download brochure with a focus on energy tariffs in the two Scottish electricity distribution regions, as well news on local energy and low-carbon schemes.

Previous editions can be download here.

Scottish energy market overview

You can read an overview of the Scottish energy market here.

Scottish Government energy feed