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4.5m 'living in fuel poverty' in UK warn experts

An estimated 4.5 million UK homes are living in fuel poverty and the Government is not doing enough to tackle the crisis, according to a report.

National Energy Action called on the Government to do more to make energy efficiency programmes available to the poorest households. Credit: PA

The UK Fuel Poverty Monitor (FPM) those living in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland were more likely to struggle with fuel poverty but they also had greater access to energy efficiency measures.

The average investment on energy efficiency programmes for low income households in England was just £3.52 per electricity customer, compared to £36.48 in Scotland, £31.31 in Wales and £27.55 in Northern Ireland, the report stated.

Homes eligible for assistance with insulation and other energy saving costs were not receiving it because the measures were too costly or potential customers were being asked for a contribution they could not afford, FPM said.

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Ofgem: Inquiry should look at profits and customer trust

Ofgem has highlighted several key areas the Competition and Markets Authority should look at in its inquiry of the energy market, including possible tacit co-ordination and profits made by the 'Big Six'.

The energy watchdog has outlined the following areas:

  • Customer trust: The review found that consumer trust had fallen with 43% of customers not trusting energy suppliers to be transparent with them.
  • Entry barriers: The large suppliers own infrastructures such as power stations and supply businesses meaning it is difficult for new entrants to the market.
  • Possible tacit co-ordination: Ofgem did not find evidence of explicit collusion between suppliers. However, the watchdog found evidence of possible tacit co-ordination in the timing and size of price announcements.
  • Profits: The average profits for the 'Big Six' have increased from £3bn to £3.7bn in three years. Ofgem said it noted the increase and questioned suppliers saying that 5% is a fair margin.

Centrica boss: Big energy firms 'absolutely not a cartel'

The boss of Centrica, which owns British Gas, told ITV News the 'Big Six' energy firms are "absolutely not a cartel" after Ofgem's review found evidence of possible tacit co-ordination.

The energy watchdog said it did not find evidence of explicit collusion between the firms but said the timing and size of price announcements were part of the evidence that showed possible tacit co-ordination.

Sam Laidlaw told ITV News he "refutes totally" the idea that the 'Big Six' are a cartel and claimed that the energy market is "vibrant" and "very competitive."

Npower: It's time realities of market were made public

The chief executive of RWE npower has welcomed the major competition inquiry into energy firms and said it is "time that the realities of the market were made public."

It's time that the realities of the energy market were made public. Britain has the 3rd cheapest gas prices in Europe and the 7th cheapest electricity prices, and we have taken steps to get to the facts as to why bills are going up.

If there are problems they need to be dealt with, and where the market is operating well this can be acknowledged.

– Paul Massara, CEO RWE npower

Mr Massara added that British consumers deserved a "comprehensive and vigorous investigation" so the public could start trusting energy companies again.

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Centrica boss: 70% of gas will be imported by 2020

ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills has tweeted:

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