“For households in Scotland energy prices have not been frozen at two and a half grand—indeed, the average bill in Scotland has been closer to £3,500.”

That was the claim from the SNP leader in Westminster, Stephen Flynn MP in parliament last week.

But energy regulator Ofgem has told FactCheck that it “do[es]n’t recognise” the figure and that it “doesn’t ring true”.

Let’s take a look.

Is the average energy bill £3,500 in Scotland?

The £2,500 figure Mr Flynn mentions refers to the government’s Energy Price Guarantee (EPG), which took effect on 1 October last year and gives a discount off energy rates to all households to help with the cost of living crisis.

However, the EPG doesn’t mean bills are “frozen” at that price, as Mr Flynn said, as exact savings depend on how much energy a household uses.

Although the price cap is currently £4,279 a year, no one pays the full amount right now.

This is because under the EPG, a household using a typical amount of gas and electricity in England, Wales and Scotland is currently paying £2,500 a year on average. (Northern Ireland has a slightly different system.)
But Mr Flynn claimed that this wasn’t the case in Scotland, with the average bill being closer to £3,500 a year.

A SNP spokesperson told FactCheck Mr Flynn was “quoting independent analysis published in The Herald on Sunday which stated ‘a £2,500 price guarantee will mean the typical Scots household will still be forking out close to £3500 a year in energy bills’”.

FactCheck has not been able to verify the figure stated in The Herald, and it’s not clear how the paper has reached the stat. It’s possible that the calculation does make sense, but we haven’t seen the paper’s working, so we can’t say either way.

A spokesperson for energy regulator Ofgem told FactCheck: “We don’t recognise the £3,500 figure at all, not least as there is no unified energy price published for Scotland under the government’s EPG.”

They added that a £1,000 difference “doesn’t ring true” as “it would require huge regional variations in energy costs across the UK and heroic assumptions about hidden costs”.

We can see this in a report from the House of Commons Library that was published last week. Analysing data from the UK government, the researchers found that in 2022, average bills in the “south Scotland” energy region were just £18 (or 0.8 per cent) higher than the UK average. Meanwhile in “north Scotland”, they were actually lower than average – by £16 or 1.6 per cent.

The greatest regional variation that the House of Commons researchers could find between two regions was £139 in 2022. That represents a 6 per cent gap between Merseyside and north Wales (the most expensive of Great Britain) and the north east, which was the least expensive.

A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson told FactCheck: “As the independent regulator Ofgem has confirmed, it is untrue that average bills in Scotland will reach £3,500. The comments are pure scaremongering for bill payers who are receiving unprecedented support from the UK government.

“As announced in the Spring Budget, the Energy Price Guarantee will remain at £2,500 until the end of June 2023, including in Scotland. This means the government is covering around half of the typical household’s energy bills.

“The exact saving to the consumer will depend on how much energy they use.”
The SNP told FactCheck: “Stephen Flynn MP was quoting independent analysis published in The Herald on Sunday, which stated “A £2500 price guarantee will mean the typical Scots household will still be forking out close to £3500 a year in energy bills – that’s some £2100-a-year more than in 2021, and a near £900 hike on April last year”.

“Scotland is a wealthy, energy-rich country but families have seen their energy bills soar under this Tory government. The SNP urged the Chancellor to save households £1,400 by cutting energy bills at the UK Budget but instead he chose to keep them at their current sky-high levels and withdrew the £400 energy bill rebate – leaving households hundreds of pounds worse off.”