Posted: 14 February, 2012 at 1:44 pm
John Healey has called on the Government to do more to help families and older people facing rocketing energy bills.
Speaking in a debate on energy prices in the House of Commons yesterday (October 19), the Wentworth and Dearne MP said: “This is a system that requires much clearer and fairer pricing and regulation for consumers.
“The regulator, energy companies and, above all, the Government are failing consumers across the country.
“For many, high prices mean a choice between eating and heating and, in some cases, a choice between life and death, particularly in a harsh winter.”
Mr Healey said the Government were letting consumers down by allowing energy bills to go up 20% in the past year and that they were “out of touch” when they said the answer to high prices was for people to shop around more.
He said the system penalised the poorest and low users if energy while benefiting the better-off and higher users.
He said: “Every time a family in this country switches on the heating or the lights, the Government are letting them down – and those with the lowest incomes and poorest households are being let down the most.
“If people are not online, if they are on pre-payment meters, if they do not have full bank accounts, and if they are unfortunate enough to call the one in three energy company advisers who do not give accurate information about their charges, they are simply not able to shop around.”
Mr Healey drew on the experience of Rotherham constituents he had met who were struggling to meet energy costs or had benefited from the Warm Front scheme.
Warm Front – which can provide grants for insulation and more energy efficient boilers – has helped more than 3,000 households in the Wentworth and Dearne constituency. But it has been cut by the Government and will be scrapped altogether from 2013.
Mr Healey proposed a five-point plan which he has urged the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne, and Alistair Buchanan, Chief Executive of Ofgem, to adopt. It includes simplifying tariffs and limiting standing charges.
Notes to editors