PETROL PRICES: Criticism of Government's plan to tackle fuel poverty

PUBLISHED: 17:42 13 June 2008 | UPDATED: 08:30 02 June 2010

THE New Labour Government s plan to tackle fuel poverty doesn t amount to a hill of beans. Some two-and-a-half million households are in fuel poverty, defined as those paying 10 per cent or more of their income on fuel bills. Under the plan, the governmen

THE New Labour Government's plan to tackle fuel poverty doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

Some two-and-a-half million households are in fuel poverty, defined as those paying 10 per cent or more of their income on fuel bills.

Under the plan, the government will hand over personal details of low income families to energy supply companies to provide tariff advice.

Apart from the worrying issue of data protection, these plans will not address the unfairness of those on lower incomes having to pay around £140 a year more using pre-paid meters compared to those paying quarterly bills or by direct debit.

Also, how can people without a bank account switch to a cheaper tariff?

And even if low-income customers do have a bank account, will they have sufficient funds to cover quarterly or direct debit payment?

Help the Aged charity described the proposals as a 'sticking plaster to hold back a catastrophe.'

The government's announcement comes at a time when gas and electricity supply companies have been hiking up fuel prices and making billions in super-profit.

These companies have also made a whacking £9 billion from the so-called Emission Trading Scheme, supposedly designed to curb greenhouse gases.

So will Gordon Brown impose a windfall tax? Unlikely.

Better still, will New Labour re-nationalise the utilities giants under democratic control to provide low cost energy? Not a chance!

JOHN SMITHEE

Kingsley Avenue

Wisbech


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