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Consumers' Union urges electricity firms to extend payment times

Among other measures the government plans a VAT reduction on electricity and retroactive subsidies, but that won't be enough for some households, the consumer watchdog says.

The government also plans to reduce the VAT imposed on electricity from the current 24 percent to 10 percent. The tax break starts in December and continues through the end of April. Image: Antti Haavisto / Yle

Amid soaring energy costs, the Finnish Consumers’ Union has urged electricity providers to allow households more time to pay off ever-growing bills if they are having trouble paying in time.

A recent survey found that rising costs have prompted homeowners to save energy. Another poll found that more than half of people in Finland worry about growing electricity bills.

Earlier this week, the government announced a package of measures aimed at curbing household electricity costs as temperatures drop. The measures include slight tax breaks and subsidies for qualifying households.

The government also plans to reduce the VAT imposed on electricity from the current 24 percent to 10 percent. The tax break will start in December and continue through the end of April.

However, the Consumers' Union's Secretary General, Juha Beurling-Pomoell, said those solutions are not quite enough.

"It should be noted that this kind of support is not a quick solution to situations where the due date of a large electric bill is sitting there and there's no money to pay it," he said in a statement.

He noted that it takes time for subsidy applications to be processed and that some consumers are unable to financially prepare for large bills in the near future.

"That's why it is important for energy companies to come to the rescue in situations where [the consumer] doesn't have financial reserves. It is in no one's interest for consumers to find themselves having difficulties making payments, or worse, in a spiral of debt and payment defaults," Beurling-Pomoell said.

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