Call for Jeremy Hunt to introduce ‘life-saving’ social energy tariff in budget

Call for Jeremy Hunt to introduce 'life-saving' social energy tariff in budget

Glasgow, Scotland – March 05, 2024:

Advice Direct Scotland has urged Jeremy Hunt to use budget to bring forward social energy tariff if he wants thousands of people across the UK out of fuel poverty.

In his letter to Mr. Hunt, Advice Direct Scotland (ADS) Chief Executive Andrew Bartlett said action now could also reduce the number of preventable deaths caused by cold homes.

The charity, which operates the service on behalf of the Scottish Government, is campaigning for the introduction of a UK-wide social energy tariff.

It argues that an opt-out scheme – which would automatically put struggling households on the cheapest deal – is the only way to effectively end fuel poverty in the UK.

The policy could be targeted at those most in need, with eligibility being determined by whether members of a household are in receipt of benefits or are on low incomes.

A poll published earlier this week showed that there is widespread public support for the policy, with two-thirds (66 per cent) of those questioned supporting it.

The ADS campaign is being supported by the Scottish Government, which does not have the power to introduce a social energy tariff on its own but wants UK ministers to act.

In his letter to Mr Hunt ahead of Wednesday’s statement in the House of Commons, Mr Bartlett described the UK’s energy market as “broken”.

He pointed out that the number of Scottish households in fuel poverty has risen dramatically since 2019 and as of April 2023 was estimated to be 980,000, 39 per cent of the total.

He wrote: “The Ofgem price cap might be coming down in April, but the amount people are paying for gas and electricity will still be far higher than it was before the energy crisis started.

Slightly lower prices will also do nothing to address the mountain of debt built up by struggling households.”

Between October and December last year, ADS recorded a 125 per cent rise in the number of queries relating to ‘self-disconnection’, when someone cannot afford to top up their prepayment meter

Andrew Bartlett, Chief Executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said:

“Of the many policies under consideration by the Chancellor, few will provide the immediate and life-changing effects offered by a UK-wide social energy tariff.

“Such a scheme would protect the most vulnerable people from spending excessive amounts on their bills, so they never have to face another winter in distress and discomfort.

Andrew Bartlett on Social Energy Tariffs

“It would also be a life-saving measure as it would reduce the number of preventable deaths in the UK caused by cold homes. There is a moral imperative to act.

“An opt-put social tariff is the only way to effectively end fuel poverty in this country, which is why we are urging the UK Government to work with energy providers to introduce one.”

SNP MP Marion Fellows, who has been campaigning for a social energy tariff at Westminster, said:

“The ongoing cost-of-living crisis has seen millions struggling to pay their sky-rocketing energy bills, with households that include disabled people disproportionately impacted by the economic crisis. It is clear that a social energy tariff is needed now more than ever.

SNP MP Marion Fellows on Social Energy Tariffs

“It is deeply unfair that households with disabled people who rely on life-saving electrical equipment are facing higher than average energy costs, or are having to choose between heating or charging equipment.

“I have long campaigned for the UK Government to introduce this tariff to financially support disabled people. The spring Budget presents another opportunity for the Chancellor to do the right thing, listen to the calls of campaigners and implement a social energy tariff.”


More information about Advice Direct Scotland’s campaign for a social energy tariff, including resources to support the campaign, can be found here: 

A PDF of Survation Scotland Survey conducted on behalf of Advice Direct Scotland can be downloaded here: Survation Survey: 14th to 20th February, 2024.

News on Advice Direct Scotland’s Social Energy Tariff Campaign can be found here: Advice Direct Scotland launches social energy tariff campaign

News on the recently conducted poll can be found here: New poll: Three-Quarters of Scots limit energy use amidst concerns over high bills – Advice Direct Scotland

Advice Direct Scotland is a charity which runs the national advice service Advice is available to everyone in Scotland, at no cost, regardless of personal circumstance. is available at and on freephone 0808 196 8660, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

The website also includes an online knowledge centre for Scots, with information on:

• Billing and meters

• Complaints and disputes

• Grants and assistance

• Scams and fraud

• Loss of energy supply

• Switching suppliers.

Free, impartial and practical advice is available to anyone in Scotland through Advice Direct Scotland’s service.

People can seek help in a number of different ways: freephone 0808 800 9060; and online, web chat and email at

Media Enquiries

Marc Roseblade - Head of Content, Media & Marketing

Marc Roseblade

Head of Content, Media and Marketing , Advice Direct Scotland
m: 07542 027083
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