Poor hit hardest by energy costs

With domestic gas prices having risen by 87 per cent since 2003, Energywatch claims that the poor are being forced into debt just to pay essential bills.

Allan Asher, chief executive of Energywatch, said: “We need action now to ease the hardship of the most vulnerable in society. We expect suppliers to do more to recognise their responsibilities and adopt policies which reduce the burden on the poorest who are often paying the most.”

His warning comes as the latest round of energy price rises comes into effect and Energywatch has written a letter to the main six energy firms urging action.

Yet the cost of energy is even worse for the poorest households, with Mr Asher claiming that they use pre-payment meters which can cost up to £173 more per year than invoiced meters.

With debt a problem among the poorest households, the watchdog fears that more people will become disconnected this winter as they cannot afford to pay for fuel.

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