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Energy bills higher for those who pay by cash

Citizens Advice Scotland has backed calls for an inquiry into why energy companies charge customers more when they pay by cash or cheque, rather than Direct Debit. 

The call has been made today by Conservative MP Robert Halfon. He says people who pay by cash or cheque pay £114 more per year than those who pay by Direct Debit - despite the fact they tend to be poorer. His motion on the issue is backed by nearly 200 MPs*

CAS Chief Executive Margaret Lynch says, 

“Consumers who pay by cash, cheque or meter are often those on lowest incomes. So charging them more than those who pay by direct debit is effectively penalising the poor. 

“Fuel poverty affects over a quarter of households in Scotland, and many of those people who come to the CAB because of financial problems are really struggling to pay their energy bills. 

“Direct debits are more convenient for some, but we find that people on lower incomes often find it easier to budget by paying by cash or cheque, or by pre-payment meter. So to charge these customers a higher rate is to target those least able to pay. 

“We are pleased that MPs are focusing on this issue, and we back the call for an inquiry. We will certainly be ready to contribute our evidence to that. Meanwhile anyone who needs help or advice on energy bills can get it free from their local CAB or from our consumer advice-line 03454 04 05 06.”   

* This story is reported at