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OFGEM are right to attack fuel companies

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) have welcomed OFGEM’s clamp-down today on the major gas and electricity companies over the issue of high fuel prices.

CAS Chief Executive Lucy McTernan said,

“We strongly support OFGEM’s announcement today. The evidence they have cited comes as no surprise to us. One third of households in Scotland are now in fuel poverty, and CAB advisers are very used to seeing people who are simply unable to pay their fuel bills. Last year for example, Scottish CABs helped with over 16,500 utility bill cases – that’s 45 such cases a day.
”So many families have been battered by the recession, and are really struggling just to get by.

Against that background, we have been astonished at the huge increases we’ve seen in gas and electricity bills. These high charges affect everyone, but they have a disproportionate impact on those who are on the lowest incomes.

“OFGEM are also right to draw attention to the lack of clarity in the way the bills are presented. This is a huge issue for consumers, spreading confusion and making it more difficult for people to understand or challenge their bills.

“Many people have come to their local CAB saying they have had to make a choice between paying their fuel bill or putting food on the table for themselves and their children. That is surely unacceptable for our society today – particularly when seen alongside the profits the companies are making.

“This is an issue that is affecting people in every street, every town in the country. It has to be addressed, and OFGEM are right to raise the stakes today. We would urge the government now to make clear that they too are ready to take action if the fuel companies don’t clean up their act and start giving Scottish consumers fair deal.”

For interviews, please contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010 or 07774 751655.