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NCC: Government must aid 4m 'energy poor'

30 March 2007
Almost four million households in the UK are still struggling to heat their homes, the National Consumer Council (NCC) and energywatch have warned.

Homes in fuel poverty spend more than ten per cent of their income on gas and electricity – almost three times the share any other householder pays.

And the problem is getting worse, with twice as many homes labouring under fuel poverty now than in 2003.

Media attention on fuel prices has ebbed as the winter weather subsides and fuel price cuts from major suppliers begin to take effect.

But with less than three years left to make good its promise to end fuel poverty, the government needs to step up its efforts "as a matter of urgency", insists NCC chairman Lord Whitty.

The NCC is calling for more flexibility from providers around payment methods after a study from the Family Welfare Association revealed that customers pay eight per cent more for using a meter instead of direct debit payment, despite the fact that meter customers are often those least well-off.

Meanwhile, energywatch called on government to force suppliers to offer their most vulnerable customers their cheapest tariffs via its energy white paper.

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