Rising Energy Costs
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I recognise this is a very tough time for many families across the country and the Government is doing all it can to help people in this difficult economic climate. The Prime Minister made a personal commitment to help get energy bills down and the regulator, Ofgem, is now taking forward a package of measures to help reduce bills and make the energy market fairer, clearer and simpler.

The recent announcement of a price rise is disappointing and customers should look to switch their electricity or gas bill from one supplier to another. This could save up to £200, on average, on bills. Ministers are also working with energy companies to reduce the time it takes to switch providers – with an ambition to move to switching in 24 hours.

To make sure that the energy market is competitive and offers a good deal for consumers, the Government has announced the introduction of an annual competition test starting in spring 2014. This review will be carried out by Ofgem, the Office for Fair trading, and the new Competition and Markets Authority which will look at price, profits, competition, barriers to entry and how easy it is for consumers to get the best deal.

In addition, the Prime Minister recently announced that the Government will go even further and look at rolling back the environmental levies which typically add £112 to people’s energy bills. More details are expected in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on 5 December 2013.

The VAT on domestic energy use in the UK is already charged at a reduced rate of five per cent. Unfortunately, under long-standing EU agreements, it is not possible to reduce this any further.

There are a wide range of Government measures to help low income households this winter including the Energy Company Obligation, Warm Home Discount scheme, Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments amongst others. If you are worried about your energy bills, I would encourage you to contact the Energy Savings Advice Service which has been contracted by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) to offer free and impartial advice. The number to call is 0300 123 1234.

DECC has also provided £900,000 for a Big Energy Saving Network to help the most vulnerable. Led by around 500 trained energy advisers from voluntary organisations and community groups, it provides advice on taking concrete steps to reduce energy costs.

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