Energy & Fuel
Living Costs
Money
27 April 2022

Jersey’s Government rejects calls for consumer help

Jersey’s Chief Minister has rejected a call from the Jersey Consumer Council to help Islanders through the current cost of living emergency.  The JCC took the unusual step to write to Senator John Le Fondré on 18 March, to ask him and his Government ministers to consider a package of measures which could help ease the financial pressures being put on consumers following a combination of Brexit, the economic recovery from Covid and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.   Combined, the three price rise drivers have resulted in record fuel prices, rocketing food prices and unprecedented energy price increases.   The five key measures the Council requested for a three month period were:    A reduction in fuel duty by 9p a litre  A £100 credit made available to each household to put towards their energy winter bill  Free bus journeys and free parking into town on Saturdays  A commitment to not introducing a reduction in the online shopping threshold before 2023  The establishment of a panel of Islanders and business leaders who could suggest further assistant measures    Below is the Chief Minister’s full letter dated 13 April 2022    Dear Carl,  Thank you for your letter, dated Friday, 18 March, relaying the suggestions of the Jersey Consumer Council (JCC). I apologise for the significant delay in replying to you.  The Government of Jersey is fully aware of the inflationary pressures facing all Islanders and has implemented support measures which were announced at the last States sitting by the Social Security Minister. Any measures adopted by the Government need to be targeted to achieve the maximum assistance to those most vulnerable to the effects of inflation.  The current inflationary pressure has largely arisen as a result of global factors that are beyond Jersey's control. However, in addition to the measures already taken, Ministers continue to consider further practical initiatives that can be taken where appropriate in the short and medium term to alleviate the impact of inflationary pressures will have on Islanders. These will be ready for presentation to the next Council of Ministers following the elections in June.   I have set out below detailed responses to each of the suggestions raised by the Consumer Council.     Reduce the duty on motor fuel by 9p per litre at the till  Whilst on a cursory basis this might appear attractive there are a number of concerns over this suggestion.  Reducing fuel duty is not an effective means of delivering help to Islanders. It does not benefit all households equally. Average mileage and fuel consumption in Jersey is significantly lower than in the UK. In addition, households on lower incomes - who have lower rates of car ownership - make up only a small percentage of motor fuel spending. A reduction in fuel duty would therefore disproportionately benefit those households with higher incomes and more vehicles, with some of those least well off receiving no benefit at all.  The Jersey Consumer Council's PriceComparison.je website on 21 March showed the cheapest litre of unleaded petrol in Jersey was 149.9p (in St Saviour) while the most expensive was 167.9p (in St Helier) - a difference of 18 pence. For diesel, the cheapest litre is to be had in St Helier at 153.0p in St Helier and the most expensive litre can also be had in St Helier for 173.9p - a difference of 20.9 pence, which is far greater than the reduction of 9p per litre which is proposed by the JCC. Islanders therefore already have the ability to achieve far greater savings than a reduction of 9p would achieve by being selective in where they purchase their motor fuel.  It should also be remembered that the States Assembly has declared a Climate Emergency and that we should be doing everything possible to encourage the use of public transport and other more climate friendly modes of transport at this time, many of which offer better value to islanders. The component of fuel duty hypothecated to the Climate Emergency Fund is essential in delivering on the commitments identified in the Carbon Neutral Roadmap that is due to go before the States in April.  A 9-pence reduction in fuel duty would reduce Government income by a little over £4 million per annum. The Carbon Neutral Roadmap proposes a suite of policies that seek to reduce Jersey's reliance on fossil fuels over the long term for reasons of sustainability (carbon reduction) but also to increase the affordability and security of our energy supplies. By reducing resources to deliver these policies, Jersey will remain exposed for longer to energy market supply issues and the geopolitical tensions associated with fossil fuel production that we are seeing causing the current market volatility and associated impacts.  Finally, in relation to a reduction in fuel duty it would also be important to have some degree of confidence that such a reduction would be passed on in full to consumers and I note that this concern is also being expressed in the United Kingdom.     Make £100 credit available for every household to spend on their chosen energy bill  It is important that any measures agreed by Ministers provides support in a way that is targeted to where it is most needed and can be of the most assistance. For this reason, a £100 credit to all households is not being actively considered. However Ministers have agreed a temporary scheme to support those most vulnerable. The Minister for Social Security has announced plans for monthly payments to support those most vulnerable in our community. This will take the form of a direct monthly payment of £20 to every adult or child in a household claiming Income Support and every pensioner claiming a means tested benefit.  This scheme will run from April to December 2022 and will benefit approximately 11,450 individuals. An eligible household of four will therefore receive £80 per month for nine months which is clearly more beneficial than a single payment of £100. Payments will be sent automatically - there will be no need for people to apply. These payments will also go to everyone receiving the Community Costs Bonus (CCB). Officers will also be exploring options for longer term support which will be considered by the new Council of Ministers following the election in June.     Commit to not reducing the online shopping threshold before 1 January  I can confirm that this is already the case and that the GST De Minimis Level will not be reduced (from £135 to £60) until mandatory registration of larger offshore retailers commences. As identified in the Law [Finance (2022 Budget) Law], which was approved by the States Assembly at the end of last year, the reduction in the GST De Minimis Level will not come into force until 1st January 2023.     Consider allowing free bus journeys to St Helier and/or three hours free parking on Saturdays  Whilst theoretically attractive, experience and evidence does suggest that these proposals can result in unintended consequences which would not achieve the desired outcome. Previous surveys indicate that Jersey consumers value the convenience of a location above the price of parking when choosing where to shop. Indeed, the percentage of respondents who considered the price of parking to be a factor was less than 10%.  It should be recognised that free parking could therefore work contrary to its intended result. As it removes the price incentive to walk, cycle or use the bus for town workers, this could generate additional demand for parking spaces making it harder to find a parking space which in turn may put people off shopping in the town.  Regarding free bus journeys, the most recent Household Spending survey found that bus fares averaged less than 0.2% of total expenditure - and that actually it was higher earners that spend more on public transport than lower earners.   Consider establishing an independent anti-inflation panel  The Government has reconstituted the Inflation Strategy Group to monitor changes and recommend any steps the Government can take to assist Islanders. This group has already met and is supported by the Chief Economic Advisor and Chief Statistician, and other specialist officers.  Current forecasts are for further changes in inflation over the course of the next year and the Government will aim to target any supportive measures to assist Islanders who are most vulnerable That is why we have put in place more than £2 million worth of assistance for those most affected by the current inflationary pressures, and which are taking affect during the course of this month.   I hope the above clearly addresses each of the points raised by the Consumer Council in your letter and provides the Council with confidence that the Government of Jersey is taking this matter seriously.   Yours sincerely  Senator John Le Fondré  Chief Minister    Consumer Council Chairman Carl Walker responded by saying: "We are very disappointed with the response from the Chief Minister and his team, and it is clear that the Government of Jersey believes it is already doing enough to help Islanders through these extremely difficult times.  "The Council has tried its best to prompt the Government to act beyond the £4.62 a week it has promised to those already on benefits, and will now concentrate on developing other work streams which may help consumers cope with this cost of living emergency.”    Islanders are welcome to share their thoughts on the JCC’s social media accounts or by emailing contact@consumercouncil.je  
Energy & Fuel
Living Costs
30 July 2021

Fuel And Oil Prices Rising Sharply

The Jersey Consumer Council has been monitoring fuel prices since 2007 (see below table). As the below graph highlights, fuel prices have increased steeply since the start of 2021. We approached each of the Islands’ fuel suppliers for comment and, similar to the investigation we did last year on Jersey versus UK prices, it appears that multiple global impacts are causing the increase. Nick Crolla – Head of Sales & Marketing, Rubis “We’ve seen the wholesale fuel market increase by around 6ppl in the last few months, this has been mainly due to the global rebound in demand for fuel, as COVID restrictions have been easing. These are all global influences which have an impact on our supply chain”. Nick Cunningham – General Manager, PDJ “Oil prices have been reeling ever since Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reached a compromise that resolved a two-week-long standoff over production levels. Under the compromise, the UAE will see its baseline production level lifted to 3.65 million from the current baseline around 3.17 million bpd (barrels per day) when the current contract expires in April 2022. Crude oil’s year-long surge has been sputtering for most of the last two weeks with the prospect of new supply undermining the case for producers to increase prices. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies, known as OPEC+, reached a compromise last Sunday to increase oil supply from August to will lower prices which, hit their highest level this month in more than two years”.   Jon Best – Chief Operating Officer, ATF “Oil prices have been on a yearlong surge, as demand has increased as a result of the relaxations in global lockdowns. What will happen in the short term is anybody’s guess, rising COVID-19 infections in many countries may threaten demand, although major banks have steadfastly argued that the market will continue to rally, with Goldman Sachs reiterating on Monday that it sees more upside in the market. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies, known as OPEC+, reached a compromise on [18 July] to increase oil supply from August to cool prices, which had hit their highest level this month in more than two years”. To date, no comment has been received from Paul Wright – Customer Sales Development & Account Manager, Channel Island Fuels. We will continue to monitor fuel prices sold at all Island forecourts and the cost of heating oil. Prices are published on our pricecomparison.je website and free downloadable app.
Consumer Tips
Energy & Fuel
Money
30 March 2022

Fuel Saving Tips

Fuel Saving Tips With forecourt fuel prices going through reaching record highs, we’ve put together some tips on how to reduce your fuel consumption and get the best available price. Since the Council started collecting forecourt prices around 15 years ago, the highest recorded prices were in 2012/2013 when they reached just over £1.20 per litre for unleaded petrol. The latest prices, published on 29 March 2022, are eye-watering with the prices ranging from:Unleaded £1.519 - £1.749 plDiesel       £1.550 - £1.819 pl Now, more than ever, it’s essential that we drive as efficiently as possible to get the most miles from as little fuel as possible. Your car manual will possibly have some suggestions on how to get the best out of your specific make and model but here are some more general tips. Get the best price Find the forecourt closest to your house, work, or on your route, that is selling at the best price by using our pricecomparison.je website or free downloadable app. Most forecourts with the same branding sell at the same price, but not all. Just because you can get one price in St Martin does not mean it will be the same in St Ouen. Sign up for one of the free loyalty schemes offered by the suppliers, as you will often benefit from discounts, or accumulate cash for use at a later date. The places offering these will be shown on our price comparison site very soon. Drive wisely Avoid stopping and starting, if possible. Gently roll up to the red traffic light or yellow line. Lower your speed and drive in the highest gear for that speed (within the speed limit).Accelerate away slowly and, when driving try to maintain your speed and keep the revs between 1,500 - 2,500 rpm (petrol) and 1,200 - 2,000 rpm (diesel). Brake gently too, rather than leaving it late and wasting energy (unless an emergency stop is required). Keep in gear when braking as this uses very little fuel. Keep the number of times you change gear to a minimum. Many new cars have gear change indication on the dashboard which shows the most economical gear to be driving in at any one time. With all our hills, its’ good to know that when coming to one accelerate a little ahead of time and ease off as you drive up, which will minimise fuel consumption. Our Island speed limits range from 15 to 40 mph. According to the RAC, when driving in the UK driving between 50 to 60 mph is the best for fuel efficiency. The faster you drive the more fuel you use. Cruise control can be used in the UK or Europe but is no real benefit on our roads. Maintain and tidy your car Check your tyre pressure to reduce drag and effort on your engine. The correct pressure for your vehicle will be stated in the car manual. Check the oil levels and get it serviced regularly. It’s a good time to clear out anything in the boot that you don’t need for every journey. Any extra weight uses more fuel. Take off the roof rack, roof box or cycle rack, as these create drag and add weight. It’s great to support your football team but those patriotic flags, stuck on the window or aerial, will cost you. Don’t warm up the car Modern day cars don’t need to be warmed up before driving which means you’re not wasting fuel. Keep air con to a minimum If the window is iced over, use a scraper to clear it rather than cranking up the heater to warm up the window. In the summer, open the window and let that fresh air in, although this does increase drag. When you do need to use the heater or cooler, keep it to a minimum as it is one of the biggest uses of fuel. Plan your journey If you’re unsure where you’re going it’s worth using a satnav to get you there using the quickest route. Most newer models will redirect you to avoid traffic jams or roadworks so you don’t waste time and fuel in a traffic jam. Make your journey as efficient as possible by planning your stops so you don’t have to go back on yourself. Car share and buses Reduce the time you use your car by car-sharing or using the bus service.  
Consumer Tips
Energy & Fuel
Money
02 December 2021

Energy Saving Tips – Electricity and Gas

Energy Saving Tips – Electricity and Gas With gas prices surging and electricity prices due to increase by 4% in January 2022, many customers are going to struggle to keep themselves warm and pay bills over the winter and spring period. With the help of Jersey Electricity and Jersey Gas, we’ve compiled a long list of energy-saving tips which may help counteract some of the increased costs of running your home. Heating Turn your room thermostat down by 1 degree Check the times the heating comes on and adjust accordingly Bleed radiators to prevent cold spots Close your curtains and blinds at night Use draft excluders – make you own with filled plastic bags or tights Put draft-proofing strips around window and door frames Use a chimney draft excluder when not in use – remove before lighting a fire Use blankets and layers of clothes to keep warm Hot Water Turn your immersion cylinder to 60 degrees Take a quick shower instead of a bath (uses 5 times less water) Use a washing up bowl rather than leaving the hot tap running Electricity Turn lights off when you are not in the room Don’t leave appliances on standby – turn off at plug Unplug phones, tablets and laptops once fully charged Use a kettle to boil the amount of water needed for cooking or hot drinks Change lightbulbs to energy saving LED ones Fill washing machines and dishwashers to capacity Limit use of tumble dryer by putting clothes on washing line or leaving to air Dust down fridges and radiators for best efficiency and heat flow Cooking Cook several items at the same time (a set of steamer pans uses less water) Use a microwave when possible Cover your pots and pans to reduce steam and use less energy Freeze spare or bulk cooked food (once cooled down) Consider turning your stove/hob off a couple of minutes before food is fully cooked as the heat from the pan will continue to cook your food Options which cost money but will help Insulate your loft Lag your hot water cylinder Only purchase energy efficient appliances (A++, A+, A) Consider replacing old boilers with a more energy efficient one Consider buying a smart heating control which put you in control of heating Help with Bills If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, please contact the relevant company’s support lines (see below) who may be able to offer a flexible payment plan to help you. Jersey Electricity The JEC have a free downloadable app called ‘My JE’ which can be found via the App Store or Google Play (more information on this was in our summer 2021 newsletter. They are also able to send someone to your home to check any appliances that may be using a high amount of electricity and suggest ways to reduce your bill. Their contact details are:Telephone: 01534 505460Email: jec@jec.co.uk Jersey Gas Ask Jersey Gas for a Comfort Visit, to make sure your heating system is well-maintained and running efficiently. Their contact details are:Telephone: 01534 755500Contact form: https://www.jsygas.com/contact/ Helpful Links Here are some links from Jersey Electricity, Jersey Gas and the Energy Savings Trust that you may find helpful: https://www.jec.co.uk/your-home/help-advice/saving-energy/saving-energy-in-your-home https://www.jec.co.uk/your-home/help-advice/bills-payments/reducing-your-bill/ https://www.jsygas.com/online-services/calculate-bill.php
Energy & Fuel
Money
30 March 2021

Jersey Gas Update

We’re concerned that the ‘temporary’ 6.5% Covid-related price increase, which came into effect 11 months ago, is now permanent. In our November newsletter, we asked you to get in touch to explain how the cost of Jersey Gas was affecting you and your families. We received many emails and, in some cases, families were unable to afford to turn their heating on and reported being able to see their breath in their homes. We included these case studies in a letter to Jersey Gas (see below) at the end of January. We received a reply (see below), which crucially – and disappointingly – did not address the price rise question we had posed on behalf of consumers and the Consumer Council is worried. What the reply did state was that Jersey Gas had ‘become more conscious of the needs and requirements of vulnerable people within our customer base’ and has recently launched a new scheme for vulnerable customers so Jersey Gas can extend support to them and their households based on their particular circumstances. Although the Priority Customer Care Register comes nowhere close to resolving the price issue we raised with the company, it at least provides some support for struggling Islanders, offering tailored payment plans, and we recommend you register with the company as soon as possible if you are struggling. Our letter to Jersey Gas – 25th January 2021: Attention David Cruddace, CEO   Dear David,  I am the Chairman of the Jersey Consumer Council and contact you on behalf of Jersey Gas customers living in Jersey.   As you are aware, the Council has actively opposed the ‘temporary’ 6.5% Covid-related price increase imposed on your customers with effect from 1 May 2020. This increase was implemented with just a couple of days’ notice, and without any official communication to your customers.  Since the price rise, we have raised our concerns, both with yourself and your predecessor, Ian Plenderleith, as well as with the Government of Jersey. We hoped to act as an intermediary between the company and Government to try and progress discussions on how the matter could be reversed or resolved.   Both you and Ian have explained the reason for this unexpected increase, citing the impact of Covid-19 and the fact that much of your income is derived from the hospitality industry, which was closed for several months in 2020 and again this year. You have also confirmed that internal changes and staff pay cuts have been introduced to aid the financial burden caused by the loss of usage.  We have shared this information with your customers via our social media network and newsletters and empathise with your situation, experienced by almost every business during the pandemic. Yet this ‘temporary’ rise is negatively impacting the very people Jersey Gas is there to serve. Individual customers are the ones caught in the middle and are literally paying the price for the lockdown on hospitality. Many have no other means of heating or cooking facilities, especially those in rented accommodation, which includes 15 social housing properties.  To highlight the impact this price rise is having on Islanders, Jersey Gas customers have authorised us to share their experiences with you, the majority were willing to supply their names should you wish to contact them directly. These can be found on the following couple of pages. It is important to note that, as per your suggestion, when contacted by concerned Islanders, we urge them to contact your help centre to explain their personal situation.  As you will read, some have already switched to electric boilers, and the perceived lack of regulation and oversight of Jersey Gas as a company, compared to that in the UK, is mentioned in a couple of the correspondence we received. Islanders often feel frustrated that there is a lack of ombudsman in Jersey in relation to both energy and telecom service providers.  With the temperature dropping and many Islanders concerned to put on their heating, we ask how long you plan to maintain this ‘temporary charge’ for? The Council is keen to assist in any way to progress this between the two parties, for the benefit of Islanders, so should you require any further information, please contact me at the below details.  Yours sincerely  Carl Walker  Chairman, Jersey Consumer Council                         cc:  Senator Lyndon Farnham  Government of Jersey Deputy Minister and Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture  Response from Jersey Gas – 12th February 2021 Attention Carl Walker Dear Carl Thank you for your letter dated 25th January 2021 and the feedback enclosed from Jersey Gas customers. I take on board the concerns of both the Jersey Consumer Council and our valued Jersey Gas customers. I am committed to assisting our customers with any concerns they have about Jersey Gas from the quality of customer service they receive to worries they may have paying their bills. I would urge the customers who took the time to contact the Jersey Consumer Council to contact Jersey Gas directly so we can identify them, then deal with their queries and reply to them individually. Or if they have given you permission, please share their details with us and we willcontact them. As a company, we recognise and have become more conscious of the needs and requirements of vulnerable people within our customer base and agreed there was a need to develop a policy to define who our vulnerable customers are and how we can take account of their needs. Therefore,we have recently launched our Priority Service Register for vulnerable customers so we can extend support to them and their households based on their particular circumstances. We keep a confidential register, called a Priority Service Register (PSR), which is easy to join and free of charge. I have attached the Priority Form, which explains the benefits of joining the register, please feel free to share it with our customers who contact you. If our situation changes rest assured we will contact you and our customers with an update. Yours sincerely David Cruddace You can contact the company via their website or calling 01534 755500.
At Home
Energy & Fuel
Money
02 December 2020

Heat or Eat? Jersey Gas Prices

We want to hear from Jersey Gas customers who are worried, concerned or afraid to turn their heating on this winter. Has the ‘temporary’ 6.5% price-rise – imposed during lockdown – affected your household budget to the extent that you are struggling to keep warm now the weather has turned? Please contact the Jersey Consumer Council to tell us how your heating bills are affecting your life. We will treat your information in complete confidence and, with your authority, use your situation to tackle this unfair increase on behalf of everyone. You can contact us via:– email contact@consumercouncil.je.– telephone 01534 611161– Facebook PM– Twitter DM