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Energy bill rises amid Covid pandemic condemned by fuel poverty campaigners

FUEL poverty campaigners have condemned plans to raise energy bills by almost £100 for 15 million households as customers are made to carry the rising costs of gas and electricity.

Regulator Ofgem said that its price cap for Britain’s 11 million households that are on their supplier’s default tariff could rise by £96 to £1,138 from April 1.

A further four million households with pre-payment meters could see their bills jump by £87 to £1,156.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition warned that any price cap rise will “only make matters worse” for families struggling to make ends meet.

About 3.7 million households are already classified as living in fuel poverty, the coalition warned. 

It said in a statement: “While the price cap rises may seem small to officials, for ordinary people any increase will mean the choice between heating or eating becomes even starker.

“We’d urge Ofgem and policy-makers to think again about the price cap rise, or the government to step in and provide emergency financial support to those affected by the decision.”

We Own It campaigns officer Pascale Robinson said that raising the cap at a time when millions are struggling to pay bills was “insulting.”

“Private energy companies have been fleecing the public for decades, and this latest announcement will see them ripped off even more,” she said. 

“It’s clear that Ofgem — a toothless regulator — can’t and won’t stop private energy companies extracting as much money as possible out of people through their energy bills.

“The only way we will deliver a fair energy system is to kick out the private companies and the profiteers, and bring it into public ownership. 

“It would save us billions, allow us to tackle fuel poverty and build an energy system ready and able to respond to the climate emergency.”

Citizens Advice acting chief executive Alistair Cromwell called the increase “a heavy blow to a lot of households.”

“For many people on universal credit, it will come at the same time as the £20 a week increase to the benefit is set to end,” he said.

“With a tough jobs market and essential bills rising, now is not the time for the government to cut this vital lifeline.”

Ofgem advised customers to “shop around for a cheaper deal” if they want to avoid the increase.

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