Yesterday the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) released the latest fuel poverty statistics. Based on 2014 data, they found 2.38m households to be fuel poor, a 1.4% increase on 2013. They reported the average fuel poverty gap of these households, the amount needed to escape fuel poverty, to be £371 per year. DECC’s policy focus is often predominately around energy efficiency, but at the sharp end where clients are choosing to 'heat or eat', energy affordability is key. Last week the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) also published their final report following a two-year investigation into the energy market. This recognised that prepayment is often not a choice for the predominately low income households that use this payment method and that they face higher levels of excessive pricing. We are pleased that the CMA acknowledged fuel poverty is experienced most severely by prepayment customers in abrupt self-disconnection and welcome the steps they have recommended to address this. However, the CMA’s remedies focus primarily around competition issues and we will continue to work with energy providers and the wider sector to ensure wider consumer welfare issues are taken into full consideration.
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