Fall in the number of beneficiaries

FACUA urges the Spanish Ministry of Ecological Transition to reform the electricity's 'social tariff' following the end of the automatic extensions

The association demands a broadening of the eligibility requirements so that many more families can be covered and the launch of awareness-raising campaigns for both the 'social tariff' and the semi-regulated PVPC.

FACUA urges the Spanish Ministry of Ecological Transition to reform the electricity's 'social tariff' following the end of the automatic extensions

FACUA-Consumidores en Acción urges the Ministry of Ecological Transition to carry out an in-depth reform of the electricity so called social tariff following the end on 15 September of the automatic extension approved during the state of emergency, which has led to a drop in the number of recipients.

The latest data published by the National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC, according to its initials in Spanish) reveal that September 2020 closed with 1,168,542 subscribers compared to 1,315,019 in August. In total, 146,477 fewer recipients, representing a drop of 11.1%. The largest drop occurred in the category of severely vulnerable consumers, with 11.8% fewer subscribers to the so called social tariff, from 629,416 to 555,259.

In the latter category, households without children have experienced the largest reduction, 13.1%, followed by pensioners (12.8% less) and households with two dependent children (10.0% less). In January 2021 there has been a slight recovery in the number of recipients, although not to pre-September levels.

Redesign of the requirements

In this sense, FACUA urges the Ministry led by Teresa Ribera to urgently reform the electricity social tariff and the access requirements so that many more families can benefit from it according to their economic situation, which has worsened in recent times due to the economic crisis resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The association also warns that direct access for large families should be eliminated so that its granting is governed by economic considerations, as it does not make sense that families with high income can benefit from the social tariff just because of their large family status, leaving fewer resources to attend to families that really struggle to pay their electricity bills.

Launching of institutional campaigns

Additionally, FACUA considers it necessary to launch institutional campaigns to raise awareness of both the social tariff and the semi-regulated tariff (PVPC, according to its initials in Spanish). A large number of consumers are unaware of the existence of both, that they are eligible for reductions in the social tariff if they meet a series of requirements and that the PVPC tariff results in lower electricity bills than any free market offer.

Similarly, the association is calling for a change in the conditions for prohibiting the interruption of supply to vulnerable groups in the event of non-payment. Currently, the regulation states that the supply cannot be cut off "to households covered by the social tariff in which there is at least one child under 16 years of age in the household, or in which the consumer or one of the members of the household is a person with a disability equal to or greater than 33% or with a degree of dependency II or III, subject to a certificate issued by the social services of the competent Public Administrations".

FACUA calls for the necessary regulatory changes to be made so that this ban on interruption applies to consumers in certain situations of economic vulnerability, without the need for additional requirements such as the above that could reduce the number of beneficiaries of the measure.

FACUA's President, Olga Ruiz, and its Secretary General, Rubén Sánchez, met with Ribera on 20 January to inform the Minister and Fourth Vice-President of the Government of the need to urgently adopt these measures, among other issues.