Cost-of-living: Expert shares advice to save money on bills
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Ovo Energy boss Stephen Fitzpatrick has stressed that emergency help is needed right away for the poorest households or else the country will face a winter “like never before”. But to assist the incoming Prime Minister, which the polls indicate will be Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Mr Fitzpatrick has unveiled a 10-point plan. It comes after industry regulator Ofgem announced the average household will face an energy price cap of £3,549 a year from October, an 80 percent rise from current levels.
The first step in Mr Fitzpatrick’s plan, whose company has 4.5 million customers, involves bringing forward the energy rebate.
The £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme is set to come into effect from October, offering a discount to every household in the UK.
Ovo believes the plan “is not perfect” as “those who can afford higher energy bills will still receive it”.
But the company has urged the incoming Government for it to be “paid in full to households over the next three months”.
Under current plans, the winter discount is set to involve payments to consumers over six months made in six instalments.
The second phase of the plan involves setting up a Fuel Poverty Task Force.
This would see data brought in from charities, energy companies and Government departments to determine which households are the most in need of help with bills.
The task force would then provide “a safety net that can ensure vulnerable households are supported for as long as needed” and coordinate this “immediately”.
The third step, involves immediately increasing funding for debt advisory charities.
While these are a “vital port of call for struggling households”, they are reportedly suffering from a shortfall in financial resources.
The plan also includes scrapping the prepayment meter poverty penalty, which allows sees customers who use this method to pay bills fork out more than those on direct debt.
As prepayment meter customers typically pay around £59 more per year than Direct Debit customers, according to figures from Ofgem, Ovo has called for the industry regulator to make sure that a “prepayment meter is the cheapest way to pay for energy”.
The firm has suggested that Ofgem lower the unit rates under the Price Cap to do so.
Other parts of the plan include reducing bill shocks in a progressive way, abolishing standing charges and insulating homes.
Longer term, Ovo has urged the Government to ensure the Future System Operator has a mandate for securing long-term energy demand.
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Ovo claims that this would shield UK energy companies from volatile international markets, which have seen bills skyrocket.
The final two parts of the plan involve introducing a carbon tax and bringing back the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Mr Fitzpatrick said: “If we don’t start working on this first thing on Monday, we have a new Government and a new Prime Minister, this has to be the first order of business.
“And if we don’t use every available moment of the next 12 weeks to solve we are going to see a winter like never before with people going hungry, going cold and the NHS being overwhelmed by the energy crisis this winter.
A spokesperson for the Department for Health said: “As the public would rightly expect, we are working closely with the NHS to ensure we are ready for extra pressures this winter, including providing an extra £79million last year to significantly expand our mental health services, enabling more children and young people to get help.”
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