Friday, 21 November 2008

Action needed to stop energy firms ripping off Lincolnshire’s households

Vulnerable families and pensioners need help in face of rocketing energy bills

Giles McNeill, Prospective Conservative Candidate for Nettleham & Saxilby Division’s County Council seat, called today for urgent new measures to help families and pensioners across Lincolnshire who are facing soaring energy bills and are struggling to make ends meet this winter. The average gas and electricity bill in the East Midlands has now soared to £1,264.00 a year.

One in five families is now estimated to live in fuel poverty. According to Age Concern, there are more winter deaths in Britain than in colder European countries‚ such as Finland‚ Denmark and Austria.

Conservatives have launched a series of proposals to tackle fuel poverty, which would:
• Cut the fuel bills of the poorest households by introducing tough new rules that make it illegal for energy companies to charge over the odds on pre-payment meters.
• Oblige every energy company to offer ‘social’ tariffs to vulnerable households.
• Make energy companies provide information on energy bills that shows customers whether they are on the cheapest tariff available – and, if they are not, makes clear how much they would save if they switched to the cheapest tariff, and how to do it.
• Reform Post Office Card Accounts so that people can pay their utility bills through direct debit style payments, cutting the energy bills of up to four million ‘unbanked’ people by £100 a year.

Giles said:
“With gas and electricity bills at record highs, people across Lincolnshire face their toughest winter for years. Without immediate help, many will have to choose between staying warm and going into debt.

“It is completely unacceptable that the most vulnerable people on pre-payment meters should be targeted by the energy companies to pay more than their fair share. That should be banned at once.

“And all customers should have the right to be told what the cheapest tariff is – instead of paying more because they are baffled by the complexity of what energy companies offer.

“The Government must end its dithering and act immediately to save the poorest from spending this winter worrying whether they can afford to keep warm.”

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