MUA is ‘treating poorer people worse’, says MHK

By Gemma Nettle   |   Reporter   |
Sunday 1st May 2022 12:18 pm
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A MHK accused the chairman of the Manx Utilities Authority of treating ‘poorer people worse than richer people’.

In the Tynwald sitting on Tuesday, Douglas Central MHK Chris Thomas asked Rob Callister why those on key meters were being treated differently.

The new 30% electricity tariff was introduced on April 1 with immediate effect but not everyone saw their bills change on that date.

Mr Thomas said: ‘When Treasury, the Council of Ministers or the Manx Utilities Authority, decided to delay part of the increase to July, and to start the new rate whenever your bill was sent, at that point made a decision that some of the poorest people who are on prepaid meters would be treated worse than richer people.’

Mr Callister said in response to this: ‘I do not agree with the comments. I think we have done everything we can to shield our customers over the last 12 months.

‘I have repeatedly said that we have done everything we can to shield our customers to the value of around £16 million.

‘I think it is worth putting on the record that Manx Utilities has around 48,000 customers. Under the current system it is almost impossible to apply the increase to everybody on the same day.

‘It is worth mentioning that we are rolling out our smart meters, which will actually help people to manage their consumption as well, and I have also mentioned that our customer service team is there if anybody is struggling with their electricity bills at the moment.’

Mr Moorhouse also asked the chairman whether key meter customers had to pay more for electricity from April 1 with immediate effect.

Mr Callister confirmed Manx Utilities applied a tariff increase for electricity supplied with effect from April 1 but unlike other electricity and utilities providers, it did not apply a tariff increase ‘until after a meter had been next read following the introduction of a tariff change, so as to ensure a tariff change isn’t applied to electricity consumed when the previous tariff was still in effect’.

He said: ‘Many, not all, prepayment customers will have had the increase applied from April 1. The differences in timing arise from the differences in metering infrastructure and how the billing processes work for different meters and different tariffs. It is simply not possible to implement a tariff increase across all customers in an identical manner with the current metering infrastructure.’

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