Energy company TXU Europe has performed a U-turn on its StayWarm scheme, a fixed payment scheme aimed at state pensioners. It has revealed that prices under the scheme have risen by up to 28 per cent.
According to TXU Europe it had to increase prices earlier this year by 23 to 28 per cent because of the increasing cost of gas.
StayWarm, which was launched last year to tackle the problem of fuel poverty, has more than 100,000 customers. The scheme, designed to help pensioners keep their homes heated, especially in winter, is based on a fixed annual fee, calculated from the number of bedrooms and people in a property. Customers can pay weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
TXU Europe head of social business Richard Nickels says: “The StayWarm initiative was launched as part of the company’s social programme in order to tackle fuel poverty. But gas prices have risen by 60 per cent since the scheme was launched, so we had to increase prices.”
Nickels denies that the company got its calculations wrong last year.
The director of charity National Energy Action (NEA), William Gillis, says: “The NEA supports the concept of StayWarm as a flat-rate payment for fuel. It provides the certainty that many low-income households need to manage their budget. It is unfortunate however that TXU has been forced to increase charges.”
A spokesman for Help the Aged adds: “It is a pity that prices have gone up by so much. But TXU did have a completely clean sheet to work with and so we can see the argument behind the increase.”