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Suppliers charged up to 14p a day to rent out smart meters

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The true cost of having a smart meter has been unmasked and it suggests the potential savings households are claimed they could make are offset by these hidden charges.

Energy providers have to pay several companies when providing smart meters to customers, known as Meter Asset Providers.

Rent can be as much as 14p a day for one meter – equivalent to £51.50 a year – showing exactly how much suppliers have to fork out every day.

It is likely these costs are passed on indirectly in the form of higher energy bills. 

Smart meters could be costing consumers as suppliers have to pay daily rent on each device

Smart meters could be costing consumers as suppliers have to pay daily rent on each device

Additionally, there are other charges for smart meters too. This includes a monthly fee for suppliers for communication reading adding another £20 and for places where this is hard to read, such as flats, the cost can be another £5.

The cost for Smart Energy GB – the Government-backed taskforce trying to convince all households to get a smart meter – is around £1 per household for the year. 

It has previous come under fire for paying celebrity spokespeople large sums to plug the devices on television adverts with stars such as Twiggy and Maxine Peake featuring. 

This brings potential grand total of £75 to 80 per year – or £750 to £800 over the course of a decade. This is far more than the potential savings customers are estimated to make from the devices.

Smart Energy GB claims each individual household is estimated to see a net benefit of £250 over the appraisal period, which cover the years 2013 to 2034.

This is a saving of £11.90 a year after all equipment has been paid for. After 2034, it says savings will increase to £49 for every year. 

The devices are not compulsory and take up plummeted last year, thanks to the coronavirus with 980,000 meters installed in the first three months of the year – compared to just 135,000 between April and June – a fall of 845,000.

By the end of 2020, 23,646,000 meters were operating. New targets have been put in place for individual suppliers, depending on their size.   

Whilst suppliers renting out meters isn’t a direct hit on consumers, it’s likely that suppliers will have to hike their prices to compensate for the money being spent on the meters.

Not only have prices soared in the last year, due to wholesale costs increasing, but the Ofgem price cap is also set to rise by £96 at the beginning of April with default customers set to see their annual bill rise from the current level of £1,042 to £1,138.  

Households up and down the country have been encouraged to have smart meters installed

Households up and down the country have been encouraged to have smart meters installed

Who do suppliers pay for meters? 

Energy suppliers are free to fund and install their own meters. However, most instead arrange for a Meter Asset Provider to fund their meters, which they then lease back from the Provider.

This is a commercial arrangement between industry organisations and energy suppliers who negotiate terms with the Providers with a number of Providers available for energy suppliers to work with.

These agreements also apply to traditional metering and allow for charges to transfer to the new energy supplier when customers switch provider, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). 

Aside from paying the Meter Asset Providers, suppliers must also pay the Data Communications Company (DCC), a firm who services the devices and Smart Energy GB, the team responsible for the UK’s smart meter rollout.  

How much do they pay? 

Suppliers, on average, have to pay around 8p a day, per customer, to rent out a smart meter if they are contracted through a private company.

However, if no formal contract is in place, this can go up to 14p a day.

The smart meter rollout

There have been many concerns over the smart meter rollout since it launched in 2016 with lots of households encountering challenges with their first generation devices (SMETS1). 

Many were found to have a fault where many stopped working after customers switched suppliers.

The second generation meters, SMETS2 devices, were meant to rectify this problem, however, many suppliers are still not installing these and continue to install the SMETS1 models.

The rollout has also been halted significantly due to lockdown and engineers being unable to get into homes.  

The take up, in general, has also been considerably less than the Government anticipated meaning the initial target date of every home and small business being offered one has been pushed back multiple times.

Meanwhile, if a customer with a smart meter moves supplier, the invoice for that meter passes on to the supplier they moved to and they must continue to pay.

Suppliers also have to pay the DCC a daily pence per meter point for it to pass on communications – what the meter is saying passed on to the supplier.

For a medium sized challenger supplier, the fixed cost for 2020 to 2021 are 97.7p per month for electricity and 73.8p per month for gas for each meter. 

There is also additional costs for meters where it is hard to communicate with the in home display, for example, high rise flats, called Alternative Home Area Network.

These charges are 40p per month, per meter, for both gas and electricity.  

The cost for Smart Energy GB is relatively small coming in at around £1 per household for the year.

The price is based on the market share of the company but for one medium size challenger supplier, it went up 30 per cent in one year.

The DCC, which is wholly owned by the Government, get paid for communication to be passed on even if the supplier paying them has no customers with smart meters.  

This communication network is meant to cut the cost of each energy supplier having their own smart metering communications system and enables consumers to keep smart services no matter which energy supplier they switch to. 

Smart Energy GB has long advertised the benefits of the devices, with one of the main being the meters are free.

However, it is very likely that customers are charged more for their energy bills on a whole as a way for the energy providers to recoup the costs they are being made to pay.

Smart Energy GB admitted that consumers pay for the cost of their meter and its maintenance through their energy bills but said this is the same for both traditional and for smart meters.

It added the DCC get paid as it publishes a charging statement setting out how the charges for their services are passed on to their customers, for example, energy suppliers, network companies and other third parties.

Smart meters caused controversy with many saying theirs stopped working after switching

Smart meters caused controversy with many saying theirs stopped working after switching

Why has the price for suppliers increased? 

As above, one challenger supplier found their prices hiked by 30 per cent in one year. 

Customers are invoiced monthly a fixed charge based on the latest market share data which is intended to balance the cost of smart metering across the industry.

As the programme ramps up the costs are forecast to increase, but costs are expected to reduce overtime as the programme matures.

The recent increase in prices for suppliers can be primarily attributed to costs the DCC is incurring in migrating SMETS1 meters onto the national smart metering communications network.

Once SMETS1 meters are migrated, all energy suppliers should be able to operate them and so consumers will retain smart services when they switch suppliers.

This is something that has been an ongoing problem with the first generation devices. 

Once they are enrolled onto the national network, they can transmit data. 

Some 3.8million SMETS1 meters have been migrated onto the DCC system so far.

The DCC said charges are set so they accurately reflect the costs of maintaining and expanding the rollout.

It added the charging methodology was set by the Government and closely scrutinised to ensure they are fair and essential. 

If the DCC’s spend is not justified Ofgem can ‘disallow’ costs, meaning the DCC covers the cost, not customers.

Additionally, it it does not spend all of the charges revenue in a given year – it will always return the difference to customers through lower charges in the future. 

It said this week, the DCC will be taking the step to return £12million of under-spend earlier than the regulatory process.

This process was a proactive decision made by DCC to ensure cash is handed back to customers as soon as possible where it has made savings or costs that are delayed or deferred. 

A BEIS spokesperson said: ‘Energy suppliers have long been responsible for the provision of metering to their customers, whether smart or traditional, and the smart meter rollout does not change this.’   

It added the smart meter rollout programme has now broken even, meaning every future installation will not only help individual consumers save money but deliver a net benefit to the country.

Could you cut your energy bills… or help the planet and go green? 

Millions of people could be needlessly overpaying for their energy as they fail to switch to providers who offer cheaper deal.

They may also be missing out on the opportunity to help the planet and fight climate change, by switching to green deals that offer electricity from renewable sources and more environmentally-friendly gas.

With our partner, Compare the Market, you can compare energy tariffs and exclusive deals.

Why not find out if you could save hundreds of pounds a year on your energy or go green?

>> Check to see if you can start saving money now

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Lisa Smith travelled to Turkey to study under Isis propagandist, court told

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Lisa Smith, a former Defence Forces member who denies membership of Islamic State (Isis), travelled to Turkey to become a student of a famous Islamic convert who wrote Isis propaganda, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Michael O’Higgins SC, for Ms Smith, read out a message exchange in 2013 between his client and an American Islamic scholar John Georgelas, who was living in Egypt at the time.

Counsel said Mr Georgelas asked Ms Smith to travel to Egypt to study under him and said he would pay her to help his wife, Tania Joya, take care of their children.

Ms Smith replied: “I wouldn’t dream of accepting any money for looking after your children. If I can get the benefit of your knowledge as your student that would be more than enough payment for me.”

Mr Georgelas left Egypt with Ms Joya and arranged to meet Ms Smith in Turkey.

Ms Joya, giving evidence for a second day, told Mr O’Higgins that her husband was clever and manipulative and in 2013 was communicating with Ms Smith every day over the internet.

She said he was a respected scholar who could “overwhelm” people with his knowledge of scripture. She told Sean Gillane SC, for the prosecution, that Georgelas wrote for magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah that publish Isis propaganda

Ms Smith (39), from Dundalk, Co Louth, has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful terrorist group, Islamic State, between October 28th, 2015 and December 1st, 2019. She has also pleaded not guilty to financing terrorism by sending €800 in assistance, via a Western Union money transfer, to a named man on May 6th, 2015.

Her trial is continuing in front of Mr Justice Tony Hunt, Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Cormac Dunne at the three-judge, non-jury court.

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Rioja Estates and TORG International partner for two outlet village projects

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TORG International has partnered with leading UK outlet developer Rioja Estates for the development of two new outlets in Sweden and the UK, Malmo Designer Village and Grantham Designer Outlet Village. Both schemes have already secured planning consent, with Grantham being under construction with the opening scheduled for Autumn 2023. The Malmo outlet is expected to open in Summer 2025.

 

Conveniently located in close proximity to the Danish border, Malmo Designer Village benefits from a significant catchment area. The scheme is expected to rank in the top 25% of outlet centres in Europe in terms of traffic and is predicted to generate above-average sales density.

 

Grantham Designer Outlet Village is located on the country’s third most travelled motorway, the A1 connecting London with Northern England, and is projected to attract 3.5 million visitors annually. A lack of retail competition in the immediate area means that Grantham Designer Outlet Village will achieve significantly greater penetration of its catchment than the UK outlet industry average of 3%, namely for Phase One 7.7% and for Phase Two 8.5%.

 

Says Robert van den Heuvel, Partner Development & Leasing TORG International: “It was at Mapic 2021 that we established this new collaboration with Giles Membrey and his team at Rioja Estates, whom we have known for many years. We were impressed by the quality of their two latest developments in Sweden and the UK and are therefore delighted to be able to share our enthusiasm with the tenant community and industry at large.“

 

Adds Barbara Horatz, Partner Marketing & Retail TORG International: “We feel that both developments meet all the key criteria for a successful future outlet – the strategic location on a major motorway axis, important catchment, strong tourism potential, significant size, qualitative and sustainable architecture. There are not many strategic spots left in Europe for outlet developments and we definitely consider Malmo and Grantham as two of them.”

 

Concludes Giles Membrey: “We see Malmo and Grantham as the beginning of a great collaboration for our two companies –  there are many more opportunities for joint outlet developments that we see ahead of us and that we are already discussing, be it in Europe or in any of the other major markets globally.”

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What’s the best way of getting rid of black mould in my home?

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I’ve got black mould in my home and don’t know how to remove it properly. 

What’s the best way of getting rid of it and ensuring that it doesn’t return in the future? EA, via email

Experts advise removing black needs quickly as harmful spores can get into the air and lungs

Experts advise removing black needs quickly as harmful spores can get into the air and lungs

MailOnline Property expert Myra Butterworth replies: Some properties suffer from condensation, with walls, ceilings and even floors damp and discoloured, often with mould growing on the surfaces.

Left untreated, black mould can be dangerous – particularly to young children and those with underlying respiratory issues – as the spores released from mould can get into their lungs. 

We outline some of the steps that you can take to help remove any black mould that appears, in a safe and effective way.

Susie Spence, of B&Q, replies: Mould is a problem that affects many of us each year, regardless of our living situation. 

While it is well known that mould can cause respiratory issues, it can actually lead to skin rashes as well.

Leaving it untreated is particularly dangerous for young children and those with underlying respiratory issues, as the spores released from mould can get into our lungs.

To get a better understanding of the prevalence of mould across the UK, we conducted a survey which revealed that 32 per cent of us have to contend with some form of mould, damp or condensation every year, but only 38 per cent of us would feel empowered to tackle it ourselves.

However, getting rid of mould using DIY products is relatively straight forward and shouldn’t leave us in a panic. 

We are working with our charity partner, Shelter, to help educate about how to spot mould, remove it and prevent it from coming back.

First, it is important to know how to spot the problem as mould might not always be obvious.

It thrives in damp and humid environments, and can often be found lurking in corners or dark spaces.

You should regularly check behind your cupboards for any mould that isn’t immediately visible. 

Not only that, but mould can get inside drawers and can even set up shop in your clothes, so make sure to be on the lookout when going through your clothing.

You should ensure your house is well ventilated to help keep mould at bay – including keeping furniture two inches from the wall where possible, to help with air flow.

Regularly opening windows is an easy way to do this, but you could also invest in a moisture trap that will help to draw moisture out of the air and prevent condensation that leads to mould.

Black mould can be removed to help prevent it from returning, using a mould remover spray

Black mould can be removed to help prevent it from returning, using a mould remover spray

Once you have located it, you should act quickly to remove it. However, if you are renting, it is best to alert your landlord straight away to fix any problems that are causing mould and you should not attempt to remove it yourself without checking with them first.

But, if you are a homeowner or a landlord, you can follow some simple steps to remove and prevent it for good.

Ensuring you are well protected when getting rid of mould is incredibly important, as harmful spores can get into the air, so you should make sure that you are wearing the correct equipment before getting started.

This includes using a mask, goggles and gloves to protect your lungs, eyes and skin, as well as some protective clothing as it can be a messy job.

It is also worth putting down an old towel or dust sheet to keep mould and mess off the surrounding area.

To remove the mould, there are several simple steps to follow, using readily available products.

First, you should spray the area with a mould remover spray and leave for 30 minutes so it can really take effect, making sure to open a window when you do this.

Once 30 minutes are up, carefully remove the foam and unsightly mould by wiping the area with a cloth and scrubber.

Next, it is important to keep the area well ventilated and leave it to dry completely.

Once dry, you can help to prevent the mould from coming back by painting the area with an anti-mould paint.

Once you have successfully treated your mould, it is important to continue to provide ventilation to keep it away.

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