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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.

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Where are the most expensive streets in England and Wales?

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The most expensive street in the country has been revealed as Avenue Road in London, where the average house price is £30.5million.

Avenue Road is in the affluent area of St John’s Wood in north west London, and it is lined with multi-million pound mansions.

The road is a main corridor into central London, leading into Regent’s Park. It has caught the eyes of wealthy buyers in recent years and is dubbed one of the city’s ‘most desirable destinations’.

This six-bed detached house is in the most expensive street in England and Wales - Avenue Road in St John's Wood, London - and is for sale for £27.5m

This six-bed detached house is in the most expensive street in England and Wales – Avenue Road in St John’s Wood, London – and is for sale for £27.5m

The most expensive streets in the country have been revealed by Lloyds Bank

The most expensive streets in the country have been revealed by Lloyds Bank

Avenue Road has good access to transport links and local amenities, but it has managed to escape the traffic congestion that makes other expensive roads in the capital less appealing.

But perhaps more importantly is that Avenue Road has been one of the few thoroughfare’s in the area where wealthy buyers can still snap up substantial plots of land in recent years – up to an acre – that are big enough to accommodate the ‘trophy homes’ they desire.

It means that even relatively ‘small’ and outdated properties on Avenue Road are seen as premium purchases, as buyers are often able to knock them down to make room for even bigger – and more valuable – homes in their place.

Buying agent Henry Pryor said: ‘Homes on Avenue Road go for mega bucks. Why? Because this is where one-upmanship is practiced at Olympic levels. 

‘The people here never settle for second best so the homes that are currently for sale are more expensive than the ones that have been sold – but they in turn will be eclipsed by the homes that are now being planned.’ 

Avenue Road replaces last year’s top spot, Ilchester Place in London’s Holland Park, where homebuyers last year could pay around £17million for the luxury address.

This eight-bed detached house in Avenue Road, London, is for sale for £25m via estate agents Glentree

This eight-bed detached house in Avenue Road, London, is for sale for £25m via estate agents Glentree

One of the most expensive streets is Ilchester Place in London's Holland Park (pictured)

One of the most expensive streets is Ilchester Place in London’s Holland Park (pictured)

The second most expensive is Tite Street in Chelsea, with an average house price of £28,902,000

The second most expensive is Tite Street in Chelsea, with an average house price of £28,902,000

Avenue Road’s impressive new entry, along with others in this year’s list by Lloyds Bank have reached the top following only a few lucrative transactions on these sought-after streets.

The second most expensive is Tite Street in Chelsea, and has an average house price of £28,902,000.

It is followed by South Audley Street where a home among the Mayfair Christmas lights will set you back £22.85million on average.

Holland Park’s Ilchester Place at £16,583,000 and Holland Villas Road at £15,815,000, are in fourth and fifth place respectively.

Pictured: Grosvenor Crescent in London's Belgravia is one of the most expensive streets

Pictured: Grosvenor Crescent in London’s Belgravia is one of the most expensive streets

All of the top 10 most expensive places to live are in London, with the prestigious areas of Kensington and Chelsea and the City of Westminster dominating the list.

However, the capital is being challenged by the South East in the rest of the top 20 most expensive streets in England and Wales.

The priciest properties in the South East are now an average of £5.6million, up from £4.4million in 2019, according to Lloyds Bank.

Seaside location Christchurch Road in Bournemouth has entered at number 16 this year, with properties in the area costing £6,264,000 on average.

Andrew Mason, of Lloyds Bank, said: ‘It comes as no surprise that London continues to rule the roost of the country’s prime property market, however we are seeing a marked growth in prices in the south east and across other UK regions. 

‘The average house price, in the most expensive streets in the South East has risen by over a staggering £1million in the past year.

‘Elsewhere your typical home on Wales’s most expensive street this year is just shy of £2million, compared to last year’s top average of £900,000. 

‘Meanwhile the new priciest street in the North is located in Windermere, where your average home will also cost you north of £2million, up from last year’s mean price of just over £1.5million.’

This six-bed detached house on St George's Hill, Weybridge, Surrey is for sale with a guide price of £14.5m

This six-bed detached house on St George’s Hill, Weybridge, Surrey is for sale with a guide price of £14.5m

The most expensive streets in each region…

North 

The top two most expensive streets in the North are in Windermere – Old Hall Road, which has an average house price of £2,508,000, followed by Newby Bridge Road at £1,533,000.

Five of the top 10 most expensive streets are based in Newcastle Upon Tyne – with Montagu Avenue being the most expensive at £1,225,000, four in Windermere and one in Durham.

North West

In the North West, all the expensive streets are in Altrincham, Macclesfield, Knutsford and Alderley Edge.

Barrow Lane in Altrincham is the most expensive street with homes selling, on average, for £3,706,000 followed by Green Walk at £2,763,000 and East Downs Road at £2,475,000 – all in Altrincham.

Bradford Lane at £2,375,000 and Withinlee Road at £2,336,000 are both in Macclesfield, and complete the top five.

Yorkshire and the Humber

The most expensive street in Yorkshire and the Humber is Linton Lane in Whetherby at £1,906,000, followed by St. Georges Place in York at £1,645,000, and Fulwith Mill Lane in Harrogate at £1,644,000.

Ling Lane in Leeds at £1,425,000 and Driffield Terrace in York at £1,375,000 make up the top five most expensive streets in the region.

West Midlands

In the West Midlands, Old Warwick Road with an average house price of £2,278,000 and Rising Lane at £1,868,000 – which are both in Solihull – and Cherry Hill Road at £1,850,000 in Birmingham, are the three priciest addresses.

These are followed by Temple Road in Solihull at £1,817,000, Ladywood Road in Sutton Coldfield at £1,694,000 and Liveridge Hill in Henley-In-Arden at £1,629,000.

East Midlands

Benscliffe Road in Leicester is the most expensive street in the East Midlands with an average price of £3,288,000, followed by Ulverscroft Land, also in Leicester but at half the price, with typical values at £1,644,000.

Cour D’Honneur in Oakham at £1,588,000, Wollaton Road in Nottingham at £1.57million and Warren Hill in Leicester at £1,547,000 complete the top five.

East Anglia

Streets of Cambridge dominate the 10 most expensive in East Anglia. Most of these streets are close to the main university area in the CB2 and CB3 postal districts.

Chaucer Road is the most expensive street at £3,610,000 followed by Clarkson Road at £2.93million, Storeys Way at £2,585,000, Millington Rad at £2,351,000 and then Cranmer Road at £2,233,000.

South East

The region’s most desirable addresses are in the towns of Weybridge and Leatherhead. South Ridge in Weybridge is the most expensive with an average price of £7,125,000, followed by East Road, also in Weybridge at £6,643,000.

In third place is Montrose Gardens in Leatherhead at an average price of £6,272,000 and completing the south east top five are Birds Hill Drive in Leatherhead at £5,313,000 and Camp End Road in, Weybridge at £5,237,000.

South West

The most expensive streets in the south west are found in Bath, Bournemouth, and Poole. Christchurch Road in Bournemouth is the most expensive with an average house price of £6,264,000, followed by Bath’s The Circus at £3,117,000 and Kelston Road at £3,079,000.

Streets in Poole make up six out of the 10 most expensive streets, with Panaorama Road at £2,982,000 and Pearce Avenue at £28million completing the top five.

Wales

Benar Headland in Pwllheli is Wales’s most expensive street with an average price of £1,928,000. The most expensive street in the Welsh capital of Cardiff is Llandennis Avenue, where the average house price will set buyers back £1,803,000.

Most expensive streets in England and Wales 2020 
Street Name Posttown Region Postcode Average House Price £
2015-2020*
Avenue Road London Greater London NW8 30,500,000
Tite Street London Greater London SW3 28,902,000
South Audley Street London Greater London W1K 22,850,000
Ilchester Place London Greater London W14 16,583,000
Holland Villas Road London Greater London W14 15,815,000
Manresa Road London Greater London SW3 15,518,000
Tregunter Road London Greater London SW10 15,510,000
Grosvenor Crescent London Greater London SW1X 15,440,000
Chester Square London Greater London SW1W 15,400,000
Knightsbridge London Greater London SW1X 14,954,000
South Ridge Weybridge South East KT13 7,125,000
East Road Weybridge South East KT13 6,643,000
Montrose Gardens Leatherhead South East KT22 6,272,000
Christchurch Road Bournemouth South West BH1 6,264,000
Birds Hill Drive Leatherhead South East KT22 5,313,000
Camp End Road Weybridge South East KT13 5,237,000
Brooks Close Weybridge South East KT13 5,100,000
Virginia Avenue Virginia Water South East GU25 5,083,000
Hatton Hill Windlesham South East GU20 5,009,000
Fishers Wood Ascot South East Sl5 4,996,000
Source: Lloyds Bank         

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Portillo condemns ‘shocking’ role of Tory chief in new documentary

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One hundred years ago there was no US president willing to give a demarche (diplomatic warning) to the then British prime minister over policies on Ulster.

President Joe Biden’s public dressing down of current British prime minister Boris Johnson over his attitude to the Northern Ireland protocol has no precedent in US-UK relations.

A century ago, then US president Woodrow Wilson was against Irish nationalism, and his successor Warren Harding refused to interfere in what he regarded as the internal affairs of America’s war-time ally.

In 1921, Ireland was partitioned. According to former Tory secretary of state for defence Michael Portillo, much of the blame for this should be pinned on two Conservative party leaders – Lord Randolph Churchill, father of Winston, and Andrew Bonar Law, the Canadian-born son of an Ulster preacher.

It was Churchill’s exhortation that “Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right” that first stiffened the resolve of unionists to fight against Home Rule in 1886.

His support for Ulster unionism was not based upon conviction, Mr Portillo believes, but on the belief that the “orange card is the one to play” in domestic British policies.

However, it was the behaviour of the Conservative leader Mr Bonar Law which Mr Portillo states was the most egregious when it came to Irish affairs.

Documentary series

Partition 1921 is the third in a series of documentaries Mr Portillo has made about the decade of Irish centenaries, along with 1916 Rising: The Enemy Files, and Hawks and Doves, about the War of Independence.

The latest documentary, which focuses on how partition came about, is particularly scathing regarding the behaviour of Mr Bonar Law, who was Conservative party leader between 1911 and 1921, and prime minister for just seven months, between October 1922 and May 1923, when he resigned on the grounds of ill-health.

Mr Portillo said Mr Bonar Law’s conduct in stating there was “no length of resistance to which Ulster will go, in which I shall not be ready to support them” in 1912, was “shocking from the leader of his majesty’s loyal opposition. He is contributing to armed rebellion.”

Seen from the point of view of the Conservative party then, the Liberal Democrats, propped up by the Irish Parliamentary Party, were a “band of rascals besotted with remaining in office”.

Mr Portillo compares 19th-century British prime minister William Ewart Gladstone’s conviction that home rule was right for Ireland with that of Herbert Asquith (prime minister from 1908 to 1916) and his government, who were only implementing home rule to stay in office.

“The historians who contributed to the programmes tended to think not just that the Conservatives were supporting what the UVF were doing; the UVF would not have developed in the way that it did without unionist support.

“It wasn’t just about Ireland. It was about the British empire. If Ireland moves towards independence, how do you defend the frontier against India slipping towards independence?”

The Curragh crisis of March 1914 ( also known as the Curragh mutiny) in which dozens of Anglo-Irish officers preferred to resign their commissions rather than operate against Ulster showed the British army could not be “replied upon to do the government’s bidding”, the former British defence secretary concludes.

‘Parliament has spoken’

This was a major constitutional crisis for Britain, he continues. “Parliament has spoken. Parliament has legislated for home rule and home rule is on its say.”

Mr Bonar Law’s calculations though were correct, Mr Portillo explains. “Bonar Law was absolutely confident … that the nerve of the government would crumble before their [the unionists’] nerve would crumble.”

The Home Rule Act was shelved in September 1914 and never implemented. It was replaced by the Government of Ireland Act (1920), which partitioned Ireland.

Among those who Mr Portillo interviewed for the documentary were former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Jonathan Powell – one-time adviser to former British prime minister Tony Blair – and former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, who states in the documentary that the issue of partition was as live now as it was 100 years ago.

Mr Adams points out that the Government of Ireland Act was only repealed by the Belfast Agreement in 1998.

Mr Powell said he hoped the Belfast Agreement would make Northern Ireland politics boring and about bread and butter issues, but that Brexit had made it about identity again.

The documentary ends on a pessimistic note. Mr Portillo says British government policy in creating partition was intended to placate unionism.

“The Border is no longer permanent but contingent on referendums on either side of the divide,” he states.

“It is hoped that after so much bloodshed, the question of removing the Border is approached with more wisdom and sensitivity than at its creation.”

Partition 1921 is to be broadcast on RTÉ One at 9.30pm on Monday, June 14th.

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SPAR continues to grow its Italian portfolio

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SPAR Italy continues to expand the network of its neighbourhood stores. One of the latest additions to the portfolio, the INTERSPAR Hypermarket in Belvedere Marittimo (Cosenza) has recently reopened its doors following renovation. The new look-and-feel of this store is part of SPAR Italy partner Maiora’s store renovation programme that will continue throughout 2021 in Calabria.

 

Gruppo 3A, the SPAR Brand license holder for the Northwest of Italy, has welcomed a new DESPAR store in Alba, a renowned culinary and wine-making city in Cuneo province. SPAR Italy partner Aspiag Service has recently opened a new DESPAR store in Rosolina (Rovigo), a coastal town below Venice. On a sales area of 800m², of which 500m² are dedicated to food, the store employs 25 team members, including 15 new hires. In keeping with SPAR’s environmental commitment, Aspiag prioritizes environmental sustainability and local community while opening new stores in the region.

 

Paolo Ambrosini, Aspiag Service sales area manager for the Veneto region, said: “Our goal is to be close to people and the environment. For this reason, we are entering a partnership with a local charity that will distribute unsold goods also from this new SPAR store to support our local community and its most vulnerable members.”

 

On Friday 21 May 2021, a new EUROSPAR store opened its doors in Castelrotto (Bolzano). The renovated EUROSPAR Dolomiti store is operated by brothers Robert and Filip Stuflesser, SPAR independent retailers who own SPAR stores in Ortisei and Fie. The local community has welcomed EUROSPAR Dolomiti, with its vast assortment, local products, fresh food, and excellent delicatessen department.

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