The big six energy companies are charging the poorest customers up to £330 a year more for gas and electricity, it emerged last night.
Tariffs for prepayment meters, used typically by pensioners and the less well-off, are up to 45 per cent higher than for internet customers. The industry watchdog branded the practice a £400 million rip-off. The gap between the tariffs has grown after a round of inflation-beating price rises across the sector . Figures compiled by Energy-watch, the watchdog, show that on average prepayment customers are charged £255 a year more than online customers for power, compared with £190 before Christmas. E.ON’s prepayment charge is an average of £1,097 – 45 per cent higher than its internet tariff of £769. British Gas charges its prepayment customers 30 per cent more.
Graham Kerr, of Energywatch, said:
“We have hard evidence of £400 million of excess profits being taken off the poorest members of society just at a time when fuel poverty is continuing to rise. Instead of taking from the rich to give to the poor, it seems that energy companies are taking from the poor to give to the rich.”
More than 4.5 million people are in fuel poverty – spending more than 10 per cent of income on heating their home. One in five prepayment customers is classified as fuel-poor. A third of single parents with dependent children use gas prepayment meters.
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