To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, pursuant to the Answer of 7 January 2014 to Question 219579, if he will make it his policy to direct energy suppliers to withdraw charges imposed on customers solely for the purpose of covering the cost of gas metering and billing where a customer does not use that service.
The standing charge element of the bill is commonly associated with covering the costs of, amongst other things, metering and billing as these are costs which the supplier will incur regardless of if any gas is consumed. These costs include the administrative costs of maintaining a customer account and providing bills and the cost of reading the meter and undertaking a periodic safety check. A supplier will also still be required to pay charges to the local gas network company for maintaining the connection and the distribution network which enables supply.
If a customer does not wish to pay a standing charge they can switch to a supplier with a tariff which features a standing charge set at zero.
Ofgem has been clear that consumers in vulnerable situations should not have to pay a standing charge if they are not consuming gas at all and should not have to pay for the removal of their meter, should this be appropriate, and has written to suppliers confirming this.