Energy companies to discuss heating and electricity subsidies

03 March 2008 / by Joy Tibbs
Energy companies are to meet with Government representatives to discuss the introduction of gas and electricity subsidies for those struggling to pay increased energy bills.

If they refuse to cooperate, energy companies could face being charged a windfall tax on profits.

According to fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA), fuel poverty – when a household has to spend more than 10 per cent of its income on fuel bills – is on the rise; the number of people in fuel poverty in London has more than doubled in recent years. Its research also revealed that prices have increased 90 per cent since 2003, and almost 25,000 people in the UK died from cold-related illnesses in 2007.

The group will hold a 'See The Impact' seminar on March 4 to discuss ways of tackling fuel poverty. It will touch upon proposed changes in the Energy Efficiency Commitment programme and Warm Front, the Government’s energy efficiency programme in England. It will also cover issues such as rising energy prices and climate change.

Meanwhile, Government ministers recently met with representatives from RWE NPower, Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy to discuss rising profits despite the increase in cases of fuel poverty. The Government will also hold meetings with representatives from Centrica, Powergen and EDF today.

Energy minister, Malcolm Wicks, chief secretary to the Treasury, Yvette Cooper, and Downing Street advisor, Geoffrey Norris, will attend the meeting. It is believed that approximately 4.5 million people in the UK currently live in fuel poverty, and the Government feels providers are not doing enough to combat the problem.

It is urging companies to pay into a fund which will be used to establish a special means-tested tariff for those in fuel poverty. According to reports, a fuel poverty programme will be announced by the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, during his Budget report on March 12.

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