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Utilities: Meters

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 10 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of differences in recent trends in charges by energy companies to customers with prepayment meters compared to those paying by direct debit on the achievement of fuel poverty targets. (153359)

I have been asked to reply.

The amount a customer is paying for their energy is one of the key determinants of whether such a household might be in fuel poverty, and we acknowledged in the Energy White Paper that the gap between direct debit and other payment methods has been increasing. I am encouraged by the work of Ofgem to highlight the savings prepayment customers can make by switching to a cheaper supplier. However, use of prepayment meters is not wholly synonymous with fuel poverty, and the majority of fuel poor customers pay for their gas and electricity by direct debit or standard credit. We will publish shortly our annual Fuel Poverty Progress Report which will include the latest data and projections on fuel poverty levels and a full examination of the factors driving the levels of fuel poverty, including energy market issues.