U.K. government offers help with rising fuel bills


John Hutton,
Energy Secretary,
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — April 14, 2008 – U.K. households struggling to pay their fuel bills are set to receive significant extra help with the cost of warming their homes. The money is being provided by domestic energy suppliers in a deal brokered by Energy Secretary John Hutton following last month’s Budget decision to increase the winter fuel payment and secure an increase in the amount of money suppliers spend on their social programs.

The agreement follows the Chancellor Alistair Darling’s announcement in the Budget that the government would, as a priority, secure increased support for households. It means that Great Britain’s six energy suppliers’ collective annual spend on social assistance will triple to £150 million ($300 million) by 2011.

"Thanks to the cooperation of our energy companies, the amount of money being spent on social programs to help the poorest heat their homes is now set to treble,” said Hutton. “This could help 100,000 households who struggle to keep their homes warm in the winter. This is a significant boost to the billions already spent by government and the energy companies and means we can now get this vital extra support to the people who really need it in time for the coldest months this coming winter.”

The six largest energy companies (Centrica, EDF Energy, E.ON, Npower, Scottish & Southern, and Scottish Power) and U.K. energy regulator Ofgem each met individually with the Department for Business, Enterprise, and Regulatory Reform (BERR) last month to discuss the proposals outlined in the Budget. Discussions between each of the suppliers and BERR will continue to ensure the collective total of £150 million ($300 million) by 2011 will be met and to determine how the increase in spending of each will be delivered.

A fuel poor household is one which needs to spend more than 10 per cent of its income to heat its home to an adequate standard of warmth.