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Energy Tariffs

Volume 464: debated on Thursday 11 October 2007

The Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
(Mr. John Hutton)

Following publication of the energy White Paper, we are working closely with Ofgem and energy suppliers to consider the right way forward.

My right hon. Friend will be aware that the recent Ofgem report on social tariffs shows that energy suppliers’ take-up of social tariffs varies widely. As he knows, there is widespread consensus among non-governmental organisations working on fuel poverty issues that there needs to be much wider use of social tariffs by energy suppliers. He may be aware that the all-party group that I chair recently produced a report on the issue. Will he agree to meet me and some of the organisations involved in the sector to discuss the way forward and to ensure that the consumer interest is represented in the discussions?

I would, of course, be willing to meet my hon. Friend and all hon. Members who were involved in what I thought was a very useful report. It is worth reminding ourselves that there are 2.5 million fewer households in fuel poverty today than there were 10 years ago. I assure him that we are looking closely at how we can deal with the price gap between direct debit and pre-payment meters. We are also looking at easier ways to help pre-payment customers to switch to cheaper supplies. A number of Britain’s power companies are doing some excellent work in that area and we need to see how much more we can do.