Energy watchdog lambasts lack of focus on poorer customers

Consumer watchdog Energywatch has attacked energy companies for their reluctance to market to the fuel poor.

The energy body has called on the Government to force energy suppliers to market to lower income consumers in the same way that green tariffs are pushed to richer consumers. The plans are laid out in the Energy Bill.

Energywatch campaigns director Adam Scorer says: “I don’t think any of the companies want to market to the fuel poor. They should do, but it wouldn’t make them profits.”

Scorer also points out energy providers’ willingness to invest in marketing expensive green energy tariffs as a way of making quick profits.

He adds that while utilities giants British Gas and EDF have made “significant commitments” to tacking fuel poverty, npower and Scottish and Southern Energy have done very little.

Scorer says: “If you had to point out the company doing the least, it’s npower. The difference is between those doing something and those doing nothing. All those consumers need the supposed benefits of competition and the poor don’t get it, the rich do.”

Scorer also dismisses the Government’s possible vouchers system, which would give cheap gas and electricity for the fuel poor.

A spokesman from one energy company says the proposed voucher system “smacks of a panic measure” and is “demeaning to those in need of help”.

Scorer adds: “Let’s hope that because of all the clamour something will be done that’s worthwhile for consumers.”

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