Press Release: 75% support the right to free energy to meet basic needs

The present energy pricing system is leaving thousands each year to die of cold (1) and despite a government hand-out millions are in fear of next winter. 

Fuel Poverty Action has long been advocating a free band of energy to every household to cover basic needs like keeping the lights on, keeping warm, and running a fridge. This would be paid for by higher prices for people who use more than they need, by windfall taxes (2) while prices and profits are so high, and by a permanent end to the subsidies paid to fossil fuel corporations, now worth billions of pounds. 

This plan has the support of over 400,000 signatories on a petition (3).  

And now nationwide polling has found that three quarters of the population support the right to free energy to meet people’s basic needs.  Only 10% opposed it. The poll was conducted by ICM, with a representative sample of 2000 British adults,10th – 12th  June 2022.

An even higher number – 81% – support abolition of the standing charge – the daily charge of around 44p per day on every customer’s energy bill, which must be paid regardless of how much you use.  Only 8% want this charge to stay.  

FPA have written to Ofgem (4) about the way the costs of failing suppliers have been loaded onto the standing charge – the part of the bill that nobody can avoid – which FPA says is a “grotesque injustice”.  

Fuel Poverty Action’s Ruth London says, 

“The standing charge is even higher in some parts of the country, and it mounts up frighteningly quickly.  People on prepayment meters are often forced to find money to pay this charge before they can even turn the lights on. People who cut their use down to the bone in a bedsit end up paying more per unit of energy than those who are heating a mansion. 

Energy For All would reverse this perverse system that incentivises waste and clobbers the people who can least afford it. It would finally give energy security where we most need it – at home. And it would press the government to finally fix the UK’s notoriously badly insulated housing (5) and turn to cheaper, more sustainable sources of energy, like solar power and wind.


For media enquires please contact:

  1. On average, over 10,000 people each year are believed to die from cold homes in the UK. This figure predates the Covid pandemic and the fuel price crisis.
  2. See our comments on the government’s oil and gas “levy” here: 

Press Release: FPA tells Ofgem: standing charge discrimination must stop now. 

Fuel Poverty Action has sent a letter to Ofgem challenging new discriminatory policies in advance of this Friday’s price cap rise. Fuel Poverty Action reports that the administrative costs of taking on customers from failed energy suppliers has been loaded onto the fixed, standing charge element of energy bills, which nobody can escape. It puts lives at further risk as people who are already rationing heat and power are forced to pick up the tab for industry failures, which Ofgem sanctioned. 

Fuel Poverty Action’s co-director Ruth London said, “Why have Ofgem decided to make the poorest customers pay for their bad decisions and for bad practice in the industry? This huge injustice must be urgently reversed. Then standing charges should be ended, and we should move instead to Energy For All, a pricing structure where everyone will get enough energy free to cover their basic needs for heating, cooking, and power.” 

She adds, “Prepayment meters are another way that people with the least resources — and often with the leakiest, most poorly insulated homes — are forced to pay the highest price for fuel. These meters are often imposed without consent, cost more than direct debit, and have the effect of cutting people off supply. As prices increase, it is absolutely urgent to end such upside-down policies.

“The support offered by the government – essentially a loan that customers will have to pay back, and some help for council tax payers – barely scratch the surface of what is needed. Much more drastic changes are urgent, to ensure the basic right to warmth.”

The move away from standing charges is a step towards the new pricing structure: Energy or All, a basic supply of energy free to all, to cover needs like heating, lighting, and cooking. 

Energy for All has gained momentum rapidly with over 300,000 signatories on a petition launched by Fuel Poverty Action. Signatories have joined Fuel Poverty Action in writing to Ofgem and have so far sent 1,200 letters to CEO Jonathan Brearley. 


For media inquiries please contact Alexa Waud on 07751748026

Or email us on [email protected]

Spokespeople are available for broadcast interviews.

Press Release: Oil profits windfall tax could tackle fuel poverty

Poverty and climate campaigners at Fuel Poverty Action have written to Alok Sharma, President of COP26 calling for windfall taxes on oil companies’ huge profits, to be spent on relieving the plight of people in fuel poverty.

Research by Bloomberg News has exposed how The Western world’s biggest oil companies likely just generated more cash than at any time since the Great Recession, and investors are about to find out what they’ll do with it.[…] Shareholders are now anxious to see whether the companies will return their windfalls via higher dividends or stock buybacks — or use them to produce more oil and gas.” 1

Fuel Poverty Action (FPA) says2

“Some people, profiting from the sale of these fuels, are choosing whether to channel their windfall into still further wealth for shareholders, or to invest it in still further production of CO2.  Others face a different choice: whether to heat their homes or put food on the table.

In the UK, even before Covid, around 10,000 people died each year because they could not afford to keep warm. Millions of households are dreading this winter. In many countries, the poverty is still more acute, and the need is to keep cool as temperatures soar over 50 degrees C.”    

In an open letter to Mr Sharma, Ruth London of FPA says, 

“We are tired of the question: ‘Where is the money to come from?’ to insulate homes, bolster incomes, and transition to renewable energy and heating. Instead, it’s time to focus on ‘Where is our money going?’. Governments must commit to removing huge subsidies and windfall profits from oil corporations. As President of COP26 you should be seeking agreements that accomplish that goal.

She adds,

“In 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund, governments spent $450bn in direct subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.3 This flow of public money must now be reversed.  And the cash must be used to help relieve the energy crisis faced by people who are struggling to survive. In the UK and internationally, we need well-insulated housing, efficient heating and cooling, adequate incomes, and investment in energy which is both sustainable and affordable.



Left out in the cold – no protection for hundreds of thousands if their heating fails this winter

FPA have been pressing for months behind the scenes to get protection for people on District Heating networks, in case their heat and hot water fail during the pandemic this winter.  We’ve now written to the energy minister about this — see the letter and our press release below, and coverage in Utility Week.  We understand the government is urging heat suppliers to act on this.  Now this protection should be written into a Heat industry agreement.  

Press Release 3 November 2020

Fuel Poverty Action has written to the energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng, asking him to intervene to rescue people in danger of cold this winter (see here to read the letter).  Most people in “District Heating” systems, increasingly common in UK housing developments (1), are left out of national agreements covering gas and electricity customers during Covid-19. They have no protection if they cannot afford to heat their homes in the pandemic.  They will also be unprotected if their communal heating system fails, which can be frequent for some poorer performing networks.

The government has shown a strong commitment to boosting district heating over the coming decade,  and we are asking the minister to step in, before the weather turns worse, to ensure that consumers on such  heat networks have the same levels of protection as households on conventional gas and power supply.

Ruth London of Fuel Poverty Action said,

“This winter, the dangers are worse than ever.  Many people are working at home, many have lost their income.  Even in a normal year, it can be too expensive  to plug in an electric heater or to use an immersion heater for hot water.  The cost of running electric heaters is so high that many people cannot put them on for even an hour.  Due to the pandemic they cannot shower in a local gym, spend an afternoon in a library keeping warm, or take the children to anywhere warm.  Whatever their age, or their state of health or illness, they will be trapped in a freezing home without any source of warmth, and unable even to wash their hands in warm water. The risks are obvious, and include a risk to life.”

Pat Edmonds, from Wydham and Combre Tenants and Residents Association in Southwark had this question for the council in March 2020:

“One question I get asked almost daily from tenants/residents of Wyndham & Comber Estate is, “is enough work being done to safeguard the district heating?“  It failed last weekend.  Everyone was freezing.  Lots of people have young children who they now cannot take out to their grandparents for warmth and most of whom cannot afford the cost of putting on electric fires.  Many seniors are having to augment their electricity bills by paying extra money.”

Gas and electricity customers are governed by a series of protections, which currently include measures — usually loans — to prevent people being cut off in the pandemic (2).   They are also entitled to compensation for any outage over 24 hours, and vulnerable gas customers must be given an alternative means of cooking and heating.  But except for a small minority of schemes which are covered by the Heat Trust or the Heat Networks Industry Council (3), there is no equivalent for most people on heat networks.

David Watson of Heat Trust, comments, 

“As the independent consumer champion for those living and working on heat networks, we believe that when things go wrong customers have a right to expect that they are put right as soon as possible and to receive compensation for any loss.  Those heat network suppliers who have signed up to our Scheme are committing to doing just that on the sites registered with us.  Whilst this is welcome, our Scheme covers just 10% of the market today.  That means that the majority of customers lack even this basic support.  As we head into a difficult winter it is vital that customers receive the protection they deserve.  All heat network suppliers have the opportunity to fix this today by signing up to our standards, something I urge them all to do.”

FPA’s appeal to the minister comes after a concerted attempt to get the Heat Network industry to take action itself.

After years of lobbying, legislation of the “heat” industry is expected by 2022. It will bring in customer protection similar to what Ofgem offers users of gas and electricity, including guaranteed service payments to cover outages.  Fuel Poverty Action maintain that until this protection comes in, the heat industry should start acting now on what legislation will soon impose, and ensure that no one is out of pocket or unable to afford warmth and hot water due to heat network failures.  They say a winter of pandemic is no time for profit making businesses to be taking advantage of the current lack of regulation, at vulnerable customers’ expense.

Many failing heat networks can be dramatically improved by relatively inexpensive adjustments and upgrades.  Others require major work, but even this would be many times less costly than repeated repairs to constant breakdowns, year after year after year.

Ruth London of FPA concludes:

“The government has chosen to commit to heat networks infrastructure as a “no regrets” way forward to decarbonising heat. It should now commit to insisting that people are made safe from system failures.  And its “green recovery package” should include loans, where needed, to bring existing heat networks up to a standard which does not imperil the health of the people who use it.  

We are asking the government  to include such provision in funding for a green recovery from Covid-19.   In the meantime, both the government and the heat industry must answer the question: what consequences of their inaction are acceptable?  What price must customers pay for an unregulated industry in a pandemic year?

“We hope to hear from the minister soon.”


(1) A growing number of UK residents, including many social housing tenants and leaseholders in high-rise and low-rise blocks, get their warmth and hot water from a heat network, often called “District Heating”.  Heat is produced centrally and distributed to flats, buildings, or a whole district in the form of hot water in pipes.  In a building served by a heat network, residents cannot switch supplier.  They have no control over their prices, or the maintenance of their systems.  In some cases, the network works well, saving on bills, and on carbon emissions.  In some it is disastrously unreliable, and residents face frequent “outages” with no heat or hot water.  The experience of many in touch with FPA is backed up by research, eg Citizens Advice study.  A survey by BEIS in 2019 found that “Service interruptions are relatively common in the HN sector. More than a third of heat network consumers reported experiencing an interruption/ loss of heating in the last 12 months (HN: 37%, non-HN: 24%) and were also more likely to have experienced multiple interruptions in the last 12 months (HN: 21%, non-HN: 11%).”



BEIS Heat Networks team can be contacted at [email protected]

To speak to Pat Edmonds or other representatives of estates and developments suffering multiple outages please contact FPA.

Fuel Poverty Action works with people facing unaffordable energy bills, or dealing with failing heating systems or uncaring landlords.  Our goal is affordable, sustainable energy for all.

“What are we paying for?” Tribunal backs leaseholder on District Heating

In a pathbreaking decision, the First Tier Tribunal has told Southwark Council to refund money paid for District Heating which does not work. The Tribunal, which determines leasehold disputes, ruled that Mr Murat Kaya owed only one quarter of what had been demanded of him. Three quarters of what he had paid must be returned. For District Heating users, such victories are rare.

Mr Kaya, a leaseholder in Eugene Cotter House, sought a refund on nearly £4,000 demanded from him — and from every leaseholder in this council block. Mr Kaya told the Tribunal that before a communal boiler was replaced in 2016, the system worked fine.  Since then, there have been constant stoppages of both heat and hot water — eg 13 stoppages between mid November 2019 and 30 January 2020 — and equally constant visits from engineers. For all of this ineffective maintenance work, leaseholders were expected to pay — as well as financing the new boiler itself.

Both leaseholders and tenants have long questioned why they are having to live with such an intermittent service, which plays havoc with their families’ lives and health.  Repeated complaints and a petition have failed to bring any improvement.  

Celebrating his victory, Mr  Kaya says, 

the applicants are me and my next door neighbour only, but now I’m sure lots of other people will follow.  We should not be expected to pay for this 2016 replacement, or for maintenance that fails to maintain an acceptable level of service.”  

Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations (SGTO) and Fuel Poverty Action (FPA), who both supported Mr Kaya, have been working to ensure that council tenants are able to keep warm despite the endemic problems with Southwark’s ageing and ailing heat networks.

Ruth London of Fuel Poverty action notes, “Mr Kaya’s achievement is all the more important because such judgments are rare.  Not many have the courage, tenacity and resources to take on their landlords and suppliers.  District Heating can be good, for costs and carbon emissions, but customers cannot switch, and this rapidly expanding industry is still unregulated.  Users are at the mercy of suppliers when prices — and capital levies — are outrageously high, or when the heat and hot water constantly break down, or both.  With landlords and suppliers much better equipped and funded to pursue legal cases, it is hard for residents to get justice even when their case is very strong.”  

Mr Kaya had kept careful documentation, and secured the support of legal counsel: Josef Cannon of Cornerstone Barristers, acting pro bono.  Southwark Council, in contrast, was singularly unprepared, and unable to back up their arguments, as noted in the Tribunal’s unequivocal judgment (see paras 59-69). The Local Authority argued that they had fulfilled their obligations — since they always sent a repairman when the system broke down yet again. This logic was roundly rejected.

Mr Cannon said, “The key to this result was the meticulous record-keeping that Mr Kaya maintained over a long period. It allowed us to prove to the tribunal, in a way that could not be gainsaid, quite how intermittent and unsatisfactory the service had been. Residents who experience problems with district heating systems should attempt to keep diaries of the outages and, if they are even half as careful as Mr Kaya, they will be well-placed to prove their case.”

After a hearing held on 27 February, there was a long wait for the judgment, and then for the deadline to expire for a possible appeal.  Mr Kaya is now secure in his stunning, and unusual, win, which will have wide implications for district heating users elsewhere.

Ms London adds, “This hearing is a critical moment in a series of similar battles over District Heating that have been taking place around Southwark and nationally.  It must not be residents who pay for others’ failures.  Nor should they have to go as far as Tribunal to get simple justice or a heating system that works.

Mr Murat is available to speak to the media, as are other affected residents.

Cornerstone Barristers are at 020 7242 4986.

CMA call for heat networks regulation – but leaseholders’ crisis is ignored

Fuel Poverty Action are glad to see the CMA’s recommendation for regulation of heat networks – which is long overdue –  and the acknowledgment that while some customers benefit from District Heating, others are trapped with high prices and regular outages.  With the government poised to release £320 million of public money for heat networks this autumn, consumer protection is urgent. As well as regulation, this protection must be built into low carbon planning requirements. And it must include protection from the common problem of overheating, summer and winter.
However, one outstanding issue does not seem to have been addressed, despite FPA specifically raising this with the CMA when they consulted us, and in our response to their Statement of Scope (a response they do refer to in relation to reliability):  The huge demands on leaseholders for capital when a heating system is deemed to require further expenditure — often extending beyond repair to major extension or improvements.
Ruth London from Fuel Poverty Action said,
“Demands for tens of thousands of pounds each, on top of high standing charges for maintenance, go beyond what leaseholders can be expected to budget for and are not reasonable: freeholders and heat suppliers are in effect asking these individual householders to finance an infrastructure development in UK heating.
“This is similar to the demands being made on residents of tower blocks clad in the same combustible materials as Grenfell Tower, who are also being asked for five figure sums to remove and replace their own cladding.  Here too, the materials chosen by developers were not chosen by residents, and they should not be asked to pay the cost for others mistakes or cost-cutting decisions.  Many simply do not have the money to do so.”
The very weak legal position of leaseholders in the UK has recently been the subject of much debate in the media and in Parliament including a recent debate led by Leasehold Knowledge, with input from residents of many residents associations.
FPA have worked with leasehold residents in several estates who are fighting such demands in court, who would be ready to speak to the media.
One says,
“On my estate over 80% of leaseholders have moved out or now rent their flats and live elsewhere outside of London to pay the debt.”
Another says,
“Many of the leaseholders are pensioners and they are simply too old to move and organise renting out their dilapidated flats, the money will simply come from their food.”

PRESS RELEASE: Ofgem confronted over narrow “safeguard” cap at Millbank HQ

November 21st 2017

This morning, on the eve of the release of the latest excess winter deaths statistics, we delivered a tiny cap to Ofgem, along with a letter about their proposed “safeguard” cap on energy tariffs, which will exclude many of the people who need it most, leaving them open to continued uncontrolled “rip-offs” by energy suppliers.

The letter was initiated by Fuel Poverty Action and Disabled People Against Cuts, and has been signed signed by two national trade unions, PCS and UNISON, and a wide range of over 30 disability, women’s, anti-poverty, energy focused, and community organisations.

Representatives from Fuel Poverty Action, Disabled People Against Cuts, the All African Womens Group and Haringey Pensioners Action Group gathered outside 9 Millbank to tell Ofgem that if their plans go ahead unchanged, many disabled people and parents of small children, who could qualify for the cap, won’t. They will be left out in the cold because they do not receive the Warm Home Discount, which is awarded on a first come first served basis.

Continue reading “PRESS RELEASE: Ofgem confronted over narrow “safeguard” cap at Millbank HQ”

PRESS RELEASE: Failing London District Heating Scheme in constituency of Minister responsible for promoting district heating

District Heating, or “heat networks”, are supposed to be the answer to fuel poverty and reducing carbon emissions. However, while the UK government, and, in London, the GLA, have been strongly promoting District Heating, they have little evidence to show that it is meeting consumers’ needs, or helping the environment.
While some residents groups have fought to keep heat networks that have kept them warm at low cost for years, others are paying a heavy price and are insisting on an overhaul of how this technology is provided.
In April 2017, Fuel Poverty Action published a detailed report of the District Heating scheme in Myatts Field North, south London.  “Not Fit for Purpose”[i] laid out the huge problems faced by residents on this mixed tenure, private and council estate, and their struggle to hold the supplier, E.ON, and LB Lambeth to account.  This led to a BBC Radio 5 Live investigation broadcast 30 April. [ii]
Since that programme and report, residents from other schemes have been in contact with FPA highlighting similar difficulties.
A first meeting of District Heating residents from different estates took place in London on 20 May.
Two residents attended from the Pembroke Park estate in Hillingdon, West London, where 105 households – a mix of social tenants and shared owners with A2Dominion Housing Association – have lived through seven years of serious problems without either compensation or redress:

  • For the first nine months in 2011 no bills were sent to residents, leaving them with huge back bills of over £500 in some cases. These are still haunting customers, who are now being asked to pay them off through prepayment meters which take up to 35% of the money put in.  No one can tell if the arrears being demanded are correct.
  • Residents were told that if they did not accept smart prepayment meters they would be cut off.
  • For the first five years there were constant outages of heat and hot water, even while residents were paying an average of £80 a month.  New communal gas boilers have improved this but there are still outages, most recently in March 2017, as well as continuing serious problems with water temperature and heat.
  • Residents were promised bills of around £22 a month but some are paying £50 a week on the pre-payment meter.  Some leaseholders and shared owners are being charged an extra £50 a month for “service and maintenance”.
  • Thermal imaging shows that due to lack of insulation, Pembroke Park residents are “heating the street”, in the words of John Turner, A2Dominion  director, who has done nothing about it.  One household with a very sick child did eventually get insulation; nothing was done for the many other vulnerable residents.
  • Customer service has been very poor.

There has been hardly any progress to date, despite residents highlighting issues with their local MP, Nick Hurd — the Minister for Climate Change and Industry, in charge of promoting District Heating across the country.[iii]  Another meeting is now being set up with Nick Hurd, if he is re-elected, and residents plan to increase the pressure on their social landlord A2Dominion and the developers Taylor Wimpey.
Tracey Rogers, from Pembroke Park, says,
“They promised us in 2011 they would clear the bill but they never did; they were even billing people for usage before they had moved in. I am now putting £50 a week on the pre-payment meter and getting £32.50 of energy. They are back-billing us for a bill that is over 6 years old, that we never agreed to, they never asked us, they have not taken our incomes into consideration, they have never considered the vulnerable, the low or no income households and they have refused to credit or compensate us for the poor service over all these years.”
Ruth London of Fuel Poverty Action says,
“FPA supports the principle of District Heating, which should be able to bring down both bills and carbon emissions.  However, we are getting a flood of complaints from residents, who are paying horrendous prices for an appalling service. In the winter, many are going cold.  With District Heating unregulated, complaints very often lead nowhere.  Even metering and billing, the only two aspects of District Heating which are supposed to be regulated, still, tend to be exploitative, with smart meters failing to function, absurdly high estimates, and chaotic billing / back billing, taking advantage of users’ inability to switch.
Residents are left to navigate through a complex web of organisations which can range from the heat network operator, the housing association or housing developer, and the council, to the Heat Trust and the energy ombudsman – all of which wash their hands of any responsibility.  Meanwhile they are tied against their will to contracts that can last for generations, and are financing a major UK infrastructure change.” 
We are now hearing from dissatisfied residents on a regular basis and will be highlighting further such schemes over the coming weeks.   Even Ofgem and ADE – the trade body of the Heat industry –  are actively discussing the need for regulation.[iv]  Yet the Task Force created by ADE has no representative of District Heating users on it.

Residents of Pembroke Park are available for interview.
[i] For the full report and the executive summary see here:
[iii] Nick Hurd has been the Minster for Climate Change and Industry, and together with the Minister for Industry and Energy this brief includes “energy efficiency and heat, including fuel poverty”.
[iv] Ofgem see eg:
ADE (Association for Decentralised Energy) see

PRESS RELEASE: Parliamentary debate – Switching is no solution to exploitative energy prices

Tomorrow Thursday 16 March Parliament will debate a cross-party motion which states that the House

deplores the big six energy firms’ treatment of out-of-contract energy customers on default tariffs; believes immediate action is needed to protect these consumers, and that pushing customers to start switching will not fix the problem sufficiently quickly or completely on its own; and calls on the industry, regulators and the Government to consider solutions which recognise that many people lead busy lives where switching their energy supplier may not always be a high priority.”
Fuel Poverty Action has written to selected MPs, urging them to press the motion to a vote.  The letter says, 
This debate is a chance for Parliament to finally acknowledge that mass switching is not the solution to extortionate energy prices.  Experts are frustrated and baffled that customers don’t “engage” with the market.  But millions of us see the whole thing as a distraction and a con.  Many refuse to spend precious hours, on a procedure that for most of us is not simple, only to see the price comparison change a few months later.  And if loads of us switched, the market would simply “adjust” with higher prices for all.
We can also expect to see it adjust if the government goes for a “relative price cap” limiting the worst tariffs to a percentage higher than the best, as advocated by Conservative ex-minister John Penrose, one of the three MPs sponsoring this cross-party debate . The lowest tariffs would go up, and would bring the cap up with them – more of the cat and mouse game with consumers we’ve been seeing for years.
We cannot accept the arguments offered against a cap that could save lives.  We are told that a cap would have a chilling effect on competition – as if protecting competition were a higher priority than protecting lives.  A cap would be a minimum, not a maximum.  There is nothing to stop any supplier from offering tariffs well below the cap, and advertising that they have done so.  We are also told that an absolute cap, as opposed to a relative one, would make the market slower to respond to change.  But so far, it has responded quickly to any hint of rising wholesale prices, and with the speed of a tortoise when wholesale prices go down.  And there cannot be any credibility in charges of “interference” with the market when the market has exploited so many for so long.
Ruth London from Fuel Poverty Action comments:
“It’s about time the government admitted that most customers have our work cut out just surviving and do not have time to spend endlessly switching back and forth between exploitative energy giants.
“Energy is too important to be governed by the market, it should be controlled by the people who use it and the workers who provide it.  In the meantime, there should urgently be a cap on prices, at a level that does not leave thousands dying in cold homes every winter.  We also need good insulation, efficient boilers, renewable power, and communal heating systems that do not cost the earth.  Instead, energy efficiency measures, and support for renewables have been savagely cut – as have the wages and welfare benefits that many fuel poor people depend on if they are not to freeze.”
District Heating:
We are also asking MPs to raise the plight of customers of malfunctioning district heating systems who are trapped in long contracts and would be outside any cap as the heat industry remains unregulated.  Heat network customers are available for interview.

PRESS RELEASE: Fuel poverty campaigners ridicule little CMA cap on prepayment meter tariffs

11th November 2016

A dozen campaigners today delivered a response to the Competition and Market Authority’s proposals to cap the extra cost paid for energy by users of prepayment meters. They came from Fuel Poverty Action, National Right to Fuel Campaign, Unison, and the All African Women’s Group, and included pensioners, teachers, and asylum seekers. They wielded placards proclaiming “Your cap doesn’t fit”, “Higher Tariffs = Discrimination” and “Cold Homes Kill”.i


Prepayment meter users pay on average £300 more than customers on direct debit. The CMA propose to decrease this difference by just £75. In their response, Fuel Poverty Action demanded parity, a position which has been endorsed by a series of other organisations.ii FPA handed in the response in the lobby of Victoria House, in a tiny doll’s cap, to highlight the insult of the CMA’s insufficient proposal.

Passing on the cap containing a scroll with the response, Ruth London of FPA told Project Director Erika Lewis, “Energy companies’ license conditions forbid discrimination against users of PPMs, the CMA’s own Roger Witcombe has declared, It is unacceptable that 4 million households on prepayment meters, many of them vulnerable, face higher bills than other energy customers,’ and yet the CMA’s proposals will perpetuate this injustice.” Erika Lewis, for the CMA, agreed that the proposals are not set in stone and promised that they would take seriously the evidence provided.

Given the rife exploitation of customers by the energy industry, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy secretary Greg Clark has promised to “deal with this problem”. Fuel Poverty Action are therefore today sending a letter to both Greg Clark and Theresa May to ask whether they genuinely intend to challenge an industry that has had a free pass for so long, or will they bring in measures like the CMA’s cap, that sound good on paper, but in practice leave us in the cold.

Case Study

As well as costing more, PPMs are often forced on people, sometimes by break-ins to their homes. One such case is that of Josh Hull of Windsor who came home to find his front door lock broken – hea thought he had been burgled. He then found his payments debited for a previous tenant’s debt – a common problem – and is unable to use his electricity. Aside from the cost, he says the anxiety and sleepless nights are draining, and have harmed his performance in a new job. He is ready to speak to the media.

[i] Pictures available here:

[ii] See our response on our website for the full list of endorsements:

Email: [email protected]


Phone: 07751 748 026

Twitter: @fuelpovaction