Fuel poverty is set to soar as British Gas puts up prices

Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards has strongly criticised British Gas’ intentions to increase its gas and electricity tariffs to record levels, claiming that the number of people classed as living in fuel poverty will soar as winter approaches.

British Gas is expected to put up its energy prices in “high single digits” – a jump that would see many people putting £100 more towards their energy bills, despite the company reporting profits on UK residential customers up 23 per cent since the same time last year.

Mr Edwards, who has campaigned extensively on the issue, said that both government and big business are now attacking the most vulnerable within society and that we can expect a sharp rise in the number of premature elderly deaths from hypothermia.

He added that the expected price hikes coupled with the Coalition’s slashing of the Welfare Budget – in particular the drop in Winter Fuel Allowance from £300 to £200 – mean that the problem is more serious than ever, and reinforces Plaid’s view that Wales should have control over its own resources in order to help tackle fuel poverty.

Mr Edwards said:

“We are living in a developed country but people aren’t able to afford to heat their homes properly. Nobody in an energy-rich nation such as Wales should suffer fuel poverty yet we are seeing food banks springing up nationwide as daily essentials become daily decisions for those less well off.

“With a government in Westminster obsessed with cutting public spending, and soaring food and fuel costs, vulnerable people will have to choose between heating their homes and feeding themselves and their children.

“The elderly will also bear the brunt of these price hikes with more than 3,000 unnecessary winter deaths expected this year. As pensioners struggle to heat their homes, the bosses of British Gas are enjoying pay packages amounting to millions.

“The flaws in the so called competitive market are becoming more obvious all the time, and big business’ fixation with putting profits before people is resulting in disastrous – often fatal – effects. It’s incredible that British Gas have announced this price hike on the same day that the IEA are projecting a slump in global oil prices.

“The recent Assembly Government study showed 25% of Welsh households were in fuel poverty – it is an incredible sum. The Party of Wales have always maintained that Wales should have control over its natural resources and we view control over energy policy as a key element of our ambitions to tackle fuel poverty.

“We would also like to see those deemed to be fuel-poor taken out of the market and put on a mandatory social tariff so that the most vulnerable within society are protected during difficult times.”

ENDS

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