Current Date:

Friday, 11 May 2018

'Big Six' Energy Companies to Meet over Fuel Poverty

(Sky News) - Representatives from all of the "big six" energy companies will meet face-to-face today to discuss how to tackle fuel poverty

The issue affects more than two million households in the UK and is an acute problem every winter.
A charity has found that more than half of energy customers are completely unaware help is available to low-income households and vulnerable people.
Turn2Us, which helps people tackle poverty across the UK, is hosting the event and has spoken to 4,000 people over the past three months.
Other findings include that 46% of people say they have had to cut back on heating to save money, and for older people that figure goes up to 55%.
Simon Hopkins, CEO of Turn2Us told Sky News: "There's a lot of help that exists. We know from our research that help doesn't get to people who can't afford to heat their homes over the winter.
"The purpose of the round table is to get the big energy providers together to say 'right, what practically can we do to get this help to those who qualify for it'.
Sarah-Jane suffers from epilepsy and eyesight problems and last year found herself seriously behind on her energy bills.
She (Munich: SOQ.MU - news) had no idea that there was help available to people in vulnerable situations.
She told Sky News: "I haven't put the heating on for years. I put it on for half an hour in the evening but with the storage heaters there's not much point - I put on another layer.
"The elderly people I know are dreading it - no one will put their heating on at the moment. If they're in fuel poverty it's very, very hard."
There are a number of schemes that provide support to vulnerable customers including the Government-led Warm Home Discount, individual support grants, the Cold Weather Payment and practical support from suppliers themselves.
Discussions between the energy companies, charity leaders and industry figures will concentrate on how to increase awareness of these options.
Anthony Pygram from the regulator Ofgem said: "Suppliers should treat their customers fairly, so if people are vulnerable, they should recognise that and give those customers the help that they need.
"If customers are concerned that they could be going into debt with their supplier, they should contact the supplier as soon as possible."
"Suppliers must take into account the individual's ability to pay when they set up debt repayment arrangements."