Opinion Former Article

NEA: Is the price right?

National Energy Action (NEA) - the leading fuel poverty charity - is urging all of the main supply companies to pass on the benefits of falling wholesale prices to consumers who are still experiencing high fuel charges as a result of a number of significant gas and electricity price increases last year.

Several of the main utility companies have posted extremely positive profit figures for the first quarter of this year assisted by a significant drop in wholesale gas prices that has not been fully reflected in charges to domestic consumers.

Fuel poverty - the need to spend more than 10% of income on fuel and heat - increased dramatically between 2004 and 2006. Currently, some 2.5 million households in England cannot afford sufficient warmth to ensure health and comfort. Many of the fuel poor are old or vulnerable and forced to choose between heating and eating.

William Gillis, NEA Chief Executive, said: "We call on all the energy companies to introduce effective social tariffs which will protect the most vulnerable in society from the impacts of the general trend seen over the last few years of rising energy costs. The Government target of ending fuel poverty for vulnerable people by 2010 is unlikely to be met with current energy prices, unless effective social tariffs are introduced.

"We urge the utilities, the Regulator and the Government to work together to find ways of improving the plight experiencing by millions of householders who are still living in cold, damp and dangerous conditions.

"More favourable tariffs for the vulnerable would help to reduce the sad situation we face every year when roughly 25,000 more people die in the winter months compared with the rest of the year."

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