12 December 2018
Blog from Robin Hood Energy:
The energy market is going through unprecedented times. We have now seen 7 energy companies go under in the last 11 months alone. The increase in wholesale costs is putting extra strain on suppliers and their ability to cope financially in a complex market. Some of these suppliers that have gone under have been the cheapest on the market for some time. This enables a quick build up in customer numbers but ultimately leaves uncertainty in the market and disruption for customers when they stop trading.
Robin Hood Energy launched 3 years ago wanting to disrupt the energy market but in a sustainable way. Being publically owned through Nottingham City Council and a “not-for-profit” business we make different decisions compared to others energy suppliers. Our directors are not on bonus schemes and we streamline our overheads which ultimately helps maintain low tariffs for customers. This model allows us to use any surplus made to create affordable, competitive tariffs that benefit its energy customers.
As a publically owned energy company we champion the average person in the street, and make decisions that are morally and ethically right rather than trying to please shareholders. For example, for many years customers on prepayment meters have been penalised by paying for one of the most expensive tariffs on the market. That’s scandalous. Generally, customers on these meters can least afford energy, are in fuel poverty or are some of the most vulnerable customers, but are proportionally charged more for it. We like to think that we changed that, by offering fair tariffs for customers on prepayment meters. We’ve even refused to increase these prices for these customers in the past even though our costs were increasing.
Keeping bills low
We’re also proud of our stance of Standard Variable Tariffs (SVT’s). We actively encourage customers off these higher prices. In fact, we have a 3 stage communication strategy to move those customers to cheaper prices. This is in apparent stark contrast to other energy providers. That’s why only 20% of our base is on SVT’s compared to other suppliers where more than 60% of their customers are on SVT’s according to Ofgem’s latest figures. We set out to change this part of the market years ago by offering more competitive rates for these customers and as a result, other companies were forced to reduce their prices too via the recently introduced Energy Price Cap. These examples show the difference a publically owned energy supplier can make to both the market and its customers.
And we’re not alone in that thought. A survey in October 2017 by the Legatum Institute indicated that 77% of respondents were in favour of publically owned energy companies. Whilst Robin Hood Energy is owned by Nottingham City Council, we supply the whole of the England, Scotland and Wales for both gas and electricity, so nationally we are a real alternative to the big 6, So, if you’re looking for a brand and supplier that wholly reinvests any surplus it makes back into good causes or its customer base, then look no further than Robin Hood Energy
After only 3 years of trading, we returned a small profit. The first newly created energy supplier to post a return within its first three years. We immediately used this to voluntarily enter the Warm Home Discount to help support some of the most vulnerable customers during the winter months. Companies of our size are not mandated to contribute to the scheme but we choose to opt-in to help customers when they need it most.
Green and local
Our electricity is also 100% green, so if you select one of our green energy tariffs, the electricity provided will be certified as being sourced from UK based wind and solar generators. So now customers can join the fight against fuel poverty and save the planet at the same time!
We currently have 9 White Label partners where we are the licensed supplier partner. This was always part of our growth strategy to expand the ethos of Robin Hood Energy by tackling fuel poverty and helping vulnerable customers on a national scale. We’ve partnered with other local authorities who have this shared and common goal. Local Authority White Labels are very different to other White Labels which are potentially privately owned, as we see in some of the Big 6. We’re embedded into the local community and understand the pressures and local challenges. Local people within that region talking to and helping other local people to find the right energy deal for them.
The local knowledge and trust of a regionalised publically owned White Label brand helps reach communities and customers that have potentially never switched since the days of deregulation. Our solution allows local authorities to create a local brand to tackle fuel poverty and help vulnerable customers whilst minimising the risk to them. It also means bespoke local tariffs can be set up to attract local customers. Our White Label model ensures local authorities are paid a commission for each customer that signs up, so this commission can be ploughed back into the region for good causes.
The people's champion
Public ownership of energy isn’t a new thing. It’s been publically owned before and Robin Hood Energy is proving it can still be publically owned and successful today. Just imagine if the reported dividends paid to shareholders of private energy companies over the years were actually reinvested into customers and good causes. How much of a difference would that make to the UK? We’re proud to be different. We believe Robin Hood Energy is the missing piece of the energy industry puzzle, helping to redress the balance in the energy industry in favour of the customer and championing the public’s right to access fairly-priced energy.
Photo credit: Robin Hood Energy - Robin (J), Rebecca Long-Bailey (Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Councillor Steve Battlemuch (Chair of Robin Hood Energy Board) and Gail Scholes (CEO, Robin Hood Energy).