Scottish Power boss warns energy bills could soon be means tested to ease cost pressure

Scottish Power chief executive says he’s calling for means testing

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Chief Executive Officer of Scottish Power Keith Anderson firmly warned the Government of a massive increase in the level of debt in the next few months as energy bills are expected to rise in October to between £2500 and £3000. In light of the current cost-of-living crisis households are facing, Mr Anderson urged the Government to consider his plan to have 10 million households’ energy bills deducted by £1000 this October as plans to give households £200 are not enough to tackle the problem. Mr Anderson said a“massive increase in the level of debt” is to be expected if the Government does not provide a major intervention, warning households could soon be means-tested.

BBC Radio 4 Today presenter Mishal Husain asked: “How would that repayment work?”

Mr Anderson replied: “Well, the scheme I am suggesting to the government leaves them with various options.

“So you take the £1000 off the bill and you spread it over a 10-year period.

“You look at repayment of £40, but what that allows us to then think about is how much of that repayment does the Government help support? How much of it do we ask all the customers to pay? But you can structure it in various ways to help support people.”

Ms Husain questioned: “Sounds complex. So the idea of private companies having to means test their own costumers?”

Mr Anderson claimed: “Well, I think there are some really easy ready-made ways of doing this.

“I would hope that you could the Warm Home Discount scheme to anybody eligible. You could use anybody with eligibility for Universal Credit, you could use anybody who is on a prepayment metre.

“They will tend to be the people who are going to be hardest hit by this scheme, so you direct the money.”

The BBC presenter said: “If the Government doesn’t listen to what you are saying about what’s happening with the energy market, what could the consequences be?”

“I think the consequences will be truly horrific.

“We opened up a new phone line about a month ago to help people who are worried about their bills, and we had 8000 phone calls, 8000 people really, really scared and anxious about what they can do. 

Mr Anderson added: “I think we will end up seeing with people self-disconnecting, not loading their pre-payment cards. I think will see a massive increase in the level of debt and all of those costs and the sad thing is that the cost of the debt will end up going back onto future bills”. 

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The Scottish Power boss added: “I think we, therefore, need a more significant intervention against the energy bill, which is why I am asking for £1000 to be taken off the bills for October, which will go directly to consumers and actually help the tackle the real problem, which is the cost of their energy.”

“We already have been doing a huge amount to help our customers, and financially it’s been costing a huge amount.

“Last year, as a company, we lost over £260 million-selling gas and electricity. We have a 5 million pound hardship fund that goes to help and support customers, but this rise from £1000-1200 to £2900 is way beyond what I can deal with as a company.

“This is way beyond what the industry can deal with, which is why we think it has to be a government and regulatory backed scheme that can take £1000 off a bill and then we look at the repayment of that money over a 10-year period.”

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