A MASSIVE eight in 10 Scots want the “unfair” higher standing charges paid by people on pre-payment energy meters to be abolished, a poll has found.

The Panelbase survey, commissioned by Alba, found that 79% of Scottish adults want the additional fees charged to those using pre-payment meters – who tend to be the poorest in society – scrapped.

Just 7% of people said that the imbalance in the fees should stay in place.

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According to a House of Commons paper published on Monday, gas standing charges are uniform across the UK. People with a pre-payment meter pay 37.5 pence per day (ppd), compared to 33.5ppd for people who pay by standard credit and 28.5ppd for those who use direct debit.

For electricity, which is not uniform, people in Southern Scotland pay a standing charge of 55.7ppd if they have a pre-payment meter. In Northern Scotland, they pay 56.1ppd.

This is 5p higher than people who pay by direct debit, but around 1.2p lower than people who pay by standard credit.

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Alba MP Kenny MacAskill (above) said: “While every household in the land is facing sky-rocketing fuel bills it is pre-payment meter customers who are facing the highest charges.

“The public recognise the unfairness where it is often the least well off who are forced to pay more for their gas and electricity than those customers on the standard variable tariff.

“They quite rightly want the regulator Ofgem to instruct the energy companies to abolish these higher standing charges which are effectively a penalty on the poorest in society.”

He added: “The time for the government to get tough with the energy companies is long overdue. Along with fuel poverty campaigners I am calling on the Chancellor to act to end the injustice of higher standing charges for pre-payment meter customers and to introduce a fairer social tariff for those in greatest need.”

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It comes as a separate polling, conducted by YouGov on behalf of Consumer Scotland, found that more than 80% of people on prepayment energy meters reported cutting back on at least one area of spending to pay energy bills.

The survey, dubbed the energy affordability tracker, found 83% of those reliant on the pay as you go method of energy supply were forced to cut back.

This is compared to 69% of customers using other payment methods.

Meanwhile, 53% of those on the meters reported cutting back on food, compared to 33% who pay through other methods.

Prepayment meters have come to the fore in recent months after reports energy companies were installing them without permission from the customers.

Speaking to 1621 Scottish adults between November 28 and December 13, the poll also found some 68% of people were rationing energy in some form in their house, a rise of 16% from a similar study last spring.

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Meanwhile, 42% of the customers said they could not afford to heat their homes to a comfortable level, a 31% increase since last spring.

To combat energy price volatility, the independent agency said, the energy price guarantee should continue at its current rate of £2500 for at least another three months.

Grace Remmington, an energy policy manager, said: “Many consumers continue to be concerned about their ability to afford their energy bills and the wider cost of living.

“Support schemes have prevented the crisis deepening in the short-term, but many consumers are still struggling to afford their essentials, including energy costs.

“More can be done to protect these consumers including maintaining the energy price guarantee until June and the development of targeted social tariffs.”

The Panelbase poll was of 2006 Scots adults from February 6-13, 2023.