Rollout problems risk turning the public away from smart meters, says Citizens Advice
Citizens Advice, in its role as the official consumer champion for energy, has responded to the National Audit Office’s report on the rollout of smart meters. Earlier this year, Citizens Advice called on the government to extend the rollout deadline to 2023, citing poor consumer experiences, a lack of transparency over costs and ongoing technical problems.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Smart meters are critical to the modernisation of the UK’s energy infrastructure. However, there is a serious risk that if costs escalate, the technology doesn’t work and consumers aren’t prioritised, the public will turn away from this important innovation.
“Today’s report makes clear the 2020 deadline for the smart meter rollout will not be met. We firmly believe that 2023 is a more reasonable timeframe. This would allow technical problems to be fixed and to ensure that consumers get the best experience.
“If the costs of the rollout continue to rise, as the NAO suggests, it is households who will end up footing the bill. These costs may be offset if people benefit from savings in the long-term, but with no cost-benefit analysis conducted since 2016, it’s not clear that this will happen.
“We firmly believe that smart meters are in the best interest of consumers. But the current deadline, the lack of transparency over costs and the ongoing technical problems need to be urgently addressed.”
Notes to editors
- Citizens Advice includes the national charity; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.
- Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for energy and post. We provide supplier performance information to consumers and policy analysis to decision makers.
- The Citizens Advice Witness Service provides free, independent support for prosecution and defence witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales.
- Citizens Advice offers Pension Wise services at 500 locations in England and Wales.
- Citizens Advice’s services are free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to all regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
- To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
- For consumer advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 to talk in Welsh.
- We helped 2.6 million people face to face, by phone, email and webchat in 2017-18. For service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.
- Citizens Advice staff are supported by over 23,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 locations in England and Wales.