Memorandum submitted by Mr David Taylor (FP 04)

 


I am very concerned that one in three pensioners still lives in fuel poverty and that fuel bills are expected to go on increasing. Fuel poverty can lead to misery and ill health. Older people on low incomes are most at risk from the cold in the winter months. Last winter saw a shocking 36,700 excess winter deaths - a 49% increase on the previous year.

Only a minority of older people in fuel poverty benefit from discounted bills. Many say that they do not know about social tariffs or find them too complicated. That is why I support Age Concern and Help the Aged in calling for mandatory social tariffs so that energy companies have to offer their lowest tariff to people on low income irrespective of how they pay their bills.

Fuel poverty needs to be tackled more urgently. We do not want to see another winter like the last one. That is why I am asking you to support mandatory social tariffs to cut fuel poverty.

My own family experience is that to qualify for a social tariff the energy companies means test an applicant in the same way as a benefits agency or Local Authority. If an agency has already awarded, say, Pension Credit then that should be sufficient for an energy supplier as proof of income. It was accepted previously but it seems energy suppliers are tightening up the eligibility criteria thus less people are eligible.


Further, and I would like to stress this point, and ask you to make representations to the relevant Minister in relation to the Energy Bill which is in the pipeline: Energy suppliers of kerosene, solid fuel, and LPG do not offer social tariffs, Would you urge the Minister to include these suppliers also ?.I believe it would be discriminatory not to.


 Additionally kerosene suppliers have a minimum delivery amount of 500 ltrs. This currently costs around 275 .00 upfront. Very difficult for pensioners or others in fuel poverty. More options should be made available to order smaller amounts .I questioned a supplier on this and was told it was illegal to deliver less .A Customs and excise rule apparently. Would you be able to help confirm or deny this?  Incidentally the last occasion that kerosene prices reached the current level crude oil was at $150 a barrel .It is currently around $75 a barrel (BBC News website)

 

February 2010