Welsh Poorest Hardest Hit By Energy Price Penalty

November 5, 2007 12:00 AM

Today, Energywatch released Ofgem figures showing that over 350,000 Welsh users of Prepayment Meters (PPM) for gas and electricity, are paying an average of £206 more a year than online direct debit (DD) customers, more than anywhere else in the UK. PPM users are three times more likely to be fuel poor than average customers.

The figures also reveal that PPM Welsh npower customers, the worst offending company, are paying a record £304 more per year than online DD customers. PPM installations have rocketed over the last year as a means to recover debt from customers.

Commenting, Jenny Willott MP said:

"The charges leveled at the poorest and most vulnerable in Wales by energy companies through prepayment meters is deplorable.

"It is outrageous that 350,000 of the poorest energy customers in Wales are paying over £35m a year more than direct debit customers through prepayment meters when it only costs energy companies an extra £4m a year to run them.

"Most prepayment meter users are barred from switching supplier because of an outstanding debt and many have no internet access or a bank account and so cannot take advantage of cheaper deals.

"Prepayment meters may be an efficient way for energy companies to recover debt, but they are being used to make extortionate profits out of the poorest and most vulnerable in Wales.

"Since 2004, fuel poverty has nearly doubled in Wales. While some energy companies are making real efforts to combat fuel poverty in the run up to winter, this prepayment practice makes a mockery of these nobler efforts.

"I will be tabling a motion in Parliament to raise awareness of this issue amongst MPs."

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