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Urgent Ofgem reforms needed to help millions in fuel poverty, campaigners demand

FUEL poverty campaigners wrote to Ofgem today to demand urgent reforms to the energy market amid rising bills to help millions of suffering households.

In a letter to the regulator’s chief executive Jonathan Brearley, the End Fuel Poverty Coalition called on Ofgem to abandon plans to introduce a price cap increase in January, which it warned will penalise households in the depths of winter.

It demanded changes to the price cap to support those on pre-payment meters and add consumer protection to those who live off-gas and on heat networks.

The coalition also called for Ofgem to work with energy suppliers to create a package of additional support for the record number of households facing fuel poverty.

Coalition co-ordinator Simon Francis said: “With a new political will to address the challenge of the millions of homes in fuel poverty, we need to see Ofgem taking action to better support households across the country.”

National Pensioners’ Convention general secretary Jan Shortt said the group has also written to Ofgem and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, calling for immediate and long term measures.

“We are calling for a number of specific actions before the price cap rises again in October to a shocking average of £2,800 a year,” she said.

Fuel Poverty Action’s Ruth London criticised the provider forcing people on low incomes to pay for energy at much higher rates than the wealthy.

She said: “The current crisis makes it urgent to reverse this grotesque injustice and bring in ‘Energy For All’ – a free band of energy to make sure that everyone can keep warm and keep the lights on.”

It comes as the government announced that the first of two payments for the more than eight million poorest households in Britain to help with the cost-of-living crisis will be paid by the end of July.

The payments are worth a total of just £650 while Ofgem revealed in May that the typical household energy bill is set to rise by £800 in October.

This is on top of the £700 rise that hit households in April.

Which? policy director Rocio Concha said that while the cash would “bring relief to many,” the success will be “judged by whether financial help is getting to the most vulnerable in time to help them through this cost-of-living crisis.”

An Ofgem spokesperson said “Protecting consumers is our top priority and we take all representations very seriously from consumer groups, as part of the many open consultations we run. We have received the letter this week and will reply fully in due course.”

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