Fuel poverty affects 3.18 million households in England which means that one in eight families struggle to pay their fuel bills. It’s a hard-to-see social problem that wrecks lives, with low-income households most affected because of the ‘poverty premium’ – having to pay more for essential goods and services compared to those on higher incomes, and adding to the difficulties already faced in making ends meet.
Households with less money pay an average of £490 more a year for essential goods and services. And for one in ten of those households, the figure is at least £780. Utility pricing is one of the worst culprits, with those less able to pay seriously penalised. For instance, if you’re using a prepaid energy card, you pay up to one-third more for energy than if you had a direct debit. Water suppliers, streaming services and phone companies – they all operate like this.
In 2021, such injustice shouldn’t be happening, particularly after the last year when so many people have been struggling. Energy is a non-negotiable necessity, not a luxury; and as an energy supplier, we see it as our responsibility to ensure everyone can warm and light their homes.
Providing positive leadership
Rebel Energy was founded to fix what we see as major problems in the industry – unfair pricing, aggravation of fuel poverty, dysfunctional renewable energy markets and poor customer service. Many of which we believe have become more pronounced in the last 12 months.
One of the greatest positives we’ve seen from this challenging year is the public’s newfound desire to support brands who provide positive leadership and education – both in how they conduct business from a social and ethical perspective, and in their approach to sustainability. More and more people are making more social and environmentally conscious choices by supporting purpose-driven businesses.
Being green and socially conscious aren’t mutually exclusive
At Rebel, we’re on a mission to transform the energy sector by being the first renewable energy company to lead with a joined-up social and environmental mandate; we’re aiming to lift people out of fuel poverty with affordable green energy tariffs, and to create a business that can change society for good in an impactful and sustainable way.
One of the most important lessons we’ve learned is that you can’t be green without being socially conscious. And you can’t be socially conscious without being green. And the longer we treat environmental issues as distinct from social issues, the longer we delay fixing them.
At Rebel we talk about ‘renewing the way business is done’ and we’re building our business to put people and justice at the centre of what we do. This means being oriented towards change and working together for the collective good.
Transparency and flexibility in energy pricing
The green transition shouldn’t be the preserve of the middle and upper classes. A net-zero world can only be equitable if it is intentionally designed to be. To make renewable energy accessible to all we’ve been working hard on our automation solutions which enables us to take a lean operational approach as well as ensure we’re able to provide outstanding customer service.
In what we think is a UK energy provider first, we will offer a weekly direct debit that works out no more than a monthly one and for one good reason: our 100% UK-generated renewable energy is available to everybody, no matter their income, circumstances or when they happen to get paid.
We’ll also be using next-generation credit checks – the data from which enables us to make more accurate decisions about credit risk – to help financially vulnerable customers move onto cheaper tariffs. It will also allow us to offer an easy quoting and switching process with no nasty bill surprises for new customers.
Engagement and education
We want to provide more positive reasons for our customers to talk to us. A typical energy customer will think about their supplier for around 7 minutes a year and usually that’s usually because something’s gone wrong. We want to change this mindset and give customers compelling reasons to engage with us – whether to find out about our ‘renew’ approach to the environment, to learn more about our strategy to alleviate fuel poverty, or how we’re supporting our local communities.
Innovation is a key part of our DNA and digital technologies will play a pivotal role in how we interact with our customers, as well in facilitating better personalisation of the products and services that we offer. Our AI and cutting-edge automated processes reduce overheads and also help free up our customer services staff to to have genuine, helpful and meaningful conversations with our customers.
And it’s through maintaining the dialogue with our customers and connecting to the communities we work with, that we can harness the potential of all to make a difference to our wider society. We’re reaching a tipping point in the environmental agenda as we move towards our goal of a thriving net-zero future; now we must ensure than no one gets left behind along the way.