U.K. government focuses on fuel poverty


John Hutton,
Business secretary
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — March 11, 2008 – Business secretary John Hutton has announced his intention to re-examine the current guidelines given to energy regulator Ofgem in 2004 which dealt with reducing the number of households living in fuel poverty in the U.K. – estimated at some 4.5 million people. People living in fuel poverty are defined as those spending more than 10 percent of their income on heating and lighting.

Hutton makes the point that energy markets have changed dramatically in the years since the guidelines were issued. He is expected to ask Ofgem to take the lead in ensuring that customers have the information necessary to save on their energy bills by switching suppliers.

In addition the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, is expected to announce cuts in the tariff charged to users of prepayment (pay-as-you-go) meters. Energy watchdog energywatch recently issued a statement saying that users of prepayment meters are paying some £255 ($515) more a year than those paying by online direct debit.

These moves have not been welcomed by energy suppliers, who hold that government should not be intervening in a competitive market.

See also "Watchdog demands action to end punitive prepayment penalties"