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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 140

Date:- 21 February 2004

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Scottish Power Manweb, In the Dock…


WELL IT has not been a good week for poor old 'Scottish Power Manweb'. The Company has this week been fined £200,000 and has come under fresh fire after inflation busting price increases on Merseyside… 'energywatch North West' has welcomed 'Ofgem's' decision to fine 'Scottish Power' £200,000 along with 'npower'. The company was found to have unfairly blocked 9,000 direct debit customers from changing to a new supplier last year.

David Sidebottom, Director of energywatch North West, said:- "It makes you ask are 'Scottish Power Manweb' addicted to making bad headlines for themselves? The company has announced inflation busting price increases, and singled out the areas of Chester, North Wales and Merseyside to bring them in first. Now you'd be forgiven for thinking that Scottish Power penalise, not reward, consumer loyalty and can, on occasion, detain consumers against their will." 

Sidebottom added:- "Our advice, to shop around for a better deal, stands. Consumers might find it pays to be released from Scottish Power's inflation busting price increases." 

'energywatch' is calling on 'npower' and 'Scottish Power' to make an ex-gratia payment of £50 to each customer whose request to transfer supplier was blocked. 

Interestingly this week, as was mentioned a few lines before, the increases have shocked many businesses and also households across the North West. 'Scottish Power' has not said why they are placing in-phased price increases, in Merseyside, Chester and North Wales, rather than just bringing in the price increases across the whole of the UK at once. Regional Director, David Sidebottom, said:- "Manweb are milking their consumers that much, I'm surprised that they are not in the dairy business as well as the energy business."

Scottish Power issued this statement explaining to customers in the area affected what it was doing… "Wholesale energy market costs have risen year on year by 20%. Like other energy suppliers we have been forced to pass on some of these additional costs to customers."

'Scottish Power' told 'energy watch' that, "To help customers budget through the winter months we have delayed this increase as long as possible.

We continue to offer customers ways to lessen the impact of price changes. Our capped price offer will freeze bills at present levels until the end of December 2006.

The Increase on average electricity bill is £15 per year, £20 on gas.

In real terms prices have dropped by more than 30% for electricity and by more than 20% for gas in the last eight years."

One customer said, "Poor old Scottish Power, as they make profits, business suffers and homes go with even less cash in some of the most deprived areas of the UK."

'Energywatch' told us that "The average gas bill for Scottish Power Manweb consumers is £321. After the average 5% increase, the average gas bill will increase by £16.05. The average gas bill for Scottish Power Manweb consumers is £279. After the average 5% increase, the average electricity bill will increase by £13.95 

The dual fuel (those consumers who take both gas and electricity from SP Manweb) price is £590. The increase here will be £29.5 yet, in 
London where Scottish Power want to grow their customer base, a dual fuel consumer pays £511.95

The point about the lower prices across the country is that it undermines their excuse they are passing on wholesale costs to the consumer. The electricity sold by Scottish Power to consumers in Liverpool is bought from the same 'wholesale' markets that London consumers use. One important warning here is that these are the company's own figures. Due to Scottish Power's stonewalling and conflicting stories, we have no way of verifying this. As we all know, you can do a lot with averages and I wouldn't be surprised if the figure is higher than the £30 for gas and electricity bills."

Tim Whittle, Area Manager for Southport, for energywatch North West, the gas and electricity consumer watchdog, said: - "I don't know why they have singled out Merseyside. Scottish Power are milking Merseysiders dry, they owe their loyal customers in this area a decent explanation.

Southport and Formby will see the price increases for gas and electricity on 1 March, up to 2 months ahead of other parts of the country."

Whittle commented:- " Merseysiders who notify Scottish Power of their intention to switch to another supplier, within 14 days of the rise taking effect, will not have to pay the new prices. My advice to them is to shop around for a better deal and to switch and save."

The consumer group 'energywatch' is also offering the following How To Switch Tips:-  Shop around for a better deal You will only need your postcode to get a rough pricing comparison. Or for a more accurate comparison, calculate your annual consumption using your last four bills. 

Contact energywatch for pricing information on 08459 06 07 08 or visit any of the following energywatch accredited web sites:-;;;;;;;

Once you have found a better deal, you can either make the switch online through any of the above accredited services or telephone your chosen supplier directly. 

Give your existing supplier 28 days notice that you intend to switch.

If you experience any problems switching supplier contact energywatch for advice. Consumer Helpline 0845 9060708

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