New fuel tarrifs to drive even more older people into fuel poverty, charity warns

The new fuel tarrifs set to be introduced by energy suppliers as of next week will have a negative effect on the vulnerable customers’ finances and effectively drive them into fuel poverty, a charity has warned.

The new tarrif, a part of a series of reforms introduced by energy market regulator Ofgem, are supposed to make fuel costs clearer, but, unlike the current ones, they’ll also include a new standing charge, costing up to £400 a year, which is paid regardless of how much energy is used.

According to a media report, Age Cymru said older people would still have to pay the new charge even if they did not use much fuel.

“Bills are a major part in an older person’s expenditure. A lot of people turn down their heating in the winter because they worry they are not going to be able to afford it,” said Graeme Francis, from Age Cymru.

“Standing charges may penalise people that don’t use very much energy or those who spend time away from their property.

On the other hand, the trade association representing the industry, Energy UK, pointed out that changes to tariffs had been designed by Ofgem, and that the fuel firms would do their best to ensure individuals were on the best tariff for them. The association’s representatives also stressed that companies already have to contribute to the Warm Home Discount scheme, designed to provide support for vulnerable households.

Last, but certainly not least, it’s also important to point out that some of the energy suppliers have already started scrapping the social tarrifs and blaming the Ofgem rules on the number of tariffs they operate as the reason, though Ofgem said it had been clear that suppliers were allowed to keep social tariffs.

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