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Hated smart meters likely to be 'a costly failure' – MPs

Don't worry, consumers are footing the £11bn bill

The government's hated smart meter programme – which will slap consumers with a bill of £10.9bn – is in danger of becoming a "costly failure", a government report has said.

The report by the Energy and Climate Change Committee said it does "not believe" plans to install 53 million devices in homes and businesses by 2020 will be achieved.

"Without a significant and immediate change to the government’s present approach, which aims to install smart meters in 100 per cent of UK homes and businesses, the programme runs the risk of falling far short of expectations. At worst, it could prove to be a costly failure," said Tim Yeo MP, chair of the committee.

The report raised issues about technical, logistical and public communication problems which have resulted in delays to the programme.

It said the policy problems "are symptomatic of a national programme that the government has left largely to suppliers and failed to drive forward effectively".

Continuing technical challenges involving multiple occupancy and tall buildings should have been resolved by now, it added.

It urged the government to seek "industry-wide solutions" to the widespread technical challenges that remain.

It has been reported that the scheme will save £17bn, but MPs have warned it will only cut two per cent from peoples' bills.

In October, consumer rights group Which? warned that "without immediate action, the cost of the smart meter roll-out is in danger of spiralling out of control".

Capita, which runs the Data Communications Company (DCC) responsible for rolling out the programme, has also said "there is no feasible way to maintain the time-scales". ®

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