[holding answer 12 June 2008]: We are concerned about the impact of higher prices on vulnerable people including pensioners and we continue to encourage energy suppliers to adopt initiatives to mitigate their impact.
In Budget 2008, the Government said they would like to see the amount energy suppliers spend on social programmes increase to at least £150 million a year over the period ahead. A new voluntary agreement has recently been signed individually with the six major energy suppliers to treble their investment on social programmes in the next three years, reaching collective investment of £150 million by 2010-11. This will take spend to £100 million in 2008-09, £125 million in 2009-10 and £150 million in 2010-11.
In addition, winter fuel payments helped keep 11.7 million people warm in winter 2006-07 and Budget 2008 announced an additional one-off payment of £100 to over-80s households and £50 to over-60s households in 2008-09.
Finally, in the recent Ofgem fuel poverty summit a number of new initiatives were announced to improve the way we identify and target those in fuel poverty, provide support to vulnerable customers to use the competitive market effectively and ensure that tariff differentials are fair and justified.