WINTER is fast approaching and fuel bills are already high. Around four million households in the UK currently suffer from fuel poverty.
During winter 2010-11 over 25,000 more people died in the UK compared with non-winter periods. Many of these deaths can be directly attributed to fuel poverty.
In recent years, energy companies have responded by advertising social tariffs. I thought that the social tariff offer, which is meant to be for the most hard-pressed consumers, would be the cheapest tariff provided by each company. Not so.
Energy suppliers continued to offer cheaper tariffs about which they have no duty to tell anyone, let alone the poorest consumers.
Last year, the Government introduced the Warm Home Discount (WHD) Scheme, which is now replacing social tariffs. Qualifying households, predominantly older people in receipt of the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, but not the Savings Credit element, now receive a rebate of £120 off electricity bills.
But the core problem persists. There is simply no obligation for energy companies to switch vulnerable customers or even inform them of their cheapest tariff. So whilst some now get a rebate, they still might be paying much more than they need to.
I will soon be campaigning on this issue. Here is where you can help. Do you have examples of people on a social tariff or WHD Scheme who could have obtained a better deal from their supplier, or by changing supplier?
If you can help please do get in touch. Contact details are provided on my website - www.frankfield.com