I received my energy bill for August to September yesterday. The gas charge caught my attention. The standing charge cost me £8.04 and the actual amount of gas used cost me £8.88. In other words, the standing charge was nearly as much as the gas used. Compared to most people our gas bill is low because we make sure we use as little as possible. Our house is heated by our wood fired stove and short showers are taken instead of baths. We have made every effort to bring down the amount of gas be use and the financial benefit is seen in lower gas bills. But we can do nothing to reduce the standing charge.
This daily charge to be connected to the gas and electricity grid, regardless of how much energy someone uses, falls most heavily as a burden on lower income households. As it is a fixed charge, it does not reward those who go out of their way to save energy. So, not only does it clobber the poorest the most, it also discourages energy efficiency and damages the environment.
Personally, I feel standing charges are a rip off. The energy suppliers should at least offer a payment system that does not charge just to be connected to the grid while a compensating increase in the unit price of energy could offset the scrapping of standing charges. A reasonable price to pay to help the poorest and protect the environment.