THE government’s announcement that energy companies will spend £150m a year by 2011 taking up to 100,000 homes out of fuel poverty (April 11) will offer scant comfort to the other 4.4m households across Britain who cannot afford to heat their homes and will see no benefit from this money.

One million fuel poor households pay for their energy through a prepayment meter, paying on average £215 more a year than those on the cheapest tariff. Energy companies make an extra £332 million a year from these customers by charging prices which are unfairly high.

This initiative will give back less than half the extra they pay. Yet again, suppliers are giving with one hand and snatching it away with the other.

This announcement represents a wasted opportunity by the government to deliver a lasting solution to the social evil of fuel poverty.

The Energy Bill, currently going through Parliament, provides the government with the opportunity to put measures in place to force suppliers to provide meaningful social tariffs based on clear standards to help the millions living with the misery of fuel poverty.

Allan Asher

Chief Executive, energywatch