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Energy: Prices

Volume 507: debated on Monday 15 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what provision has been made under mandated social price support in respect of electricity and gas to increase the level of support provided to households not connected to the mains gas network. (321894)

Subject to its safe passage, the current Energy Bill will allow the Secretary of State to establish mandated social price support for more of the most vulnerable consumers.

I have announced my intention, subject to consultation, to require energy suppliers to deliver the new help available under mandated social price support schemes through eligible consumers’ electricity accounts.

I expect the consultation to take place this summer and to be sufficiently wide-ranging to cover the point the right hon. Member raises.

A rebate on electricity bills is more inclusive, enabling eligible households off the gas grid to benefit alongside eligible households on the gas grid.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate his Department has made of the effect of social tariffs in reducing the level of fuel bills in households which rely on heating fuels such as heating oil and liquefied petroleum gas. (321895)

Ofgem, who monitor the energy suppliers' social programmes, report on the number of gas and electricity customer accounts which benefit from social tariffs and the average savings per tariff. Some of these customers will be off the gas network, but the data available do not give a breakdown of these.

By March 2009 over 1 million customer accounts were benefiting from a social tariff under the current three-year voluntary agreement between Government and the energy suppliers.

We have proposed legislation for a Social Price Support Scheme in the Energy Bill, which is currently before Parliament. As part of this, we are minded to require energy suppliers to provide help through eligible consumers' electricity accounts. This would enable eligible households off the gas grid to benefit alongside those eligible households on the gas grid.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what consideration he has given to structuring mandated social price support to support households reliant on heating fuels; and if he will make a statement. (321896)

Careful consideration is being given by the Department on how best to target mandated social price support at vulnerable and fuel poor consumers.

As a result of this work I have already announced my intention, subject to consultation in summer 2010, to require energy suppliers to deliver the new help available under mandated social price support schemes through eligible consumers' electricity accounts. This is because I believe a rebate on electricity bills is more inclusive, enabling eligible households off the gas grid to benefit alongside eligible households on the gas grid.