A Postcode Lottery?: Regional Variations in Electricity Prices for Inactive Consumers
CCP Working Paper 18-10
36 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2019
Date Written: January 2019
The introduction of a price cap for consumers who have not switched to cheaper deals in the British energy market reflects increasing political concern about the higher prices paid by these consumers compared with their more active counterparts. In this paper, we demonstrate the variations in prices paid by inactive consumers for electricity in different parts of Britain over the last 45 years. The regions identified as the cheapest and most expensive vary noticeably over the period, while the magnitude of the regional differences are, if anything, lower since the introduction of competition than they were before privatisation. We explore the characteristics of consumers who stated that they had never switched supplier, and who were therefore subject to these regional price differences, using unique data from a consumer survey in 2011. Responses to the question ‘have you ever switched supplier’ identified several characteristics of inactive consumers which were consistent with the findings of previous studies: not being retired, having lower electricity expenditure, not having a gas supply and using certain payment methods are associated with a consumer reporting never having switched. However applying a consistency test (namely observing whether consumers reported being with their region’s incumbent supplier) highlighted a number of issues with relying solely on survey data to identify long-term inactivity.
Keywords: Electricity Prices, Energy Market, Regional Differences, Consumers, Switching
JEL Classification: D12, D22, D63, L94, L97, Q41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation