MP calls for fuel enquiry

January 7, 2008 12:00 AM

Rochdale MP Paul Rowen is leading calls for an urgent Parliamentary enquiry after NPower revealed a huge increase in fuel bills. Last week, the company announced an increase of 12.7% for electricity and 17.2% for gas bills. The company announced the dramatic rise on the rising cost of fuel and other bills including rising Government 'efficiency guidelines.'

Mr Rowen said: "When prices of fuel dropped last year, people's charges did not. I accept there are problems with the global fuel market but we need to ensure these rises are justified.

"This is badly timed, to raise bills at the coldest time of the year, and probably the most difficult financially, is ill judged at best. I hope that other energy company hold their bills.

"I am calling for the Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform Committee in the House of Commons to review energy prices and policy as a matter of urgency.

"Last year, when energy prices dipped, they failed to pass some of the savings onto the customer. It seems that NPower are using their customers as a cash cow.

"This massive increase could lead to the most vulnerable turning off their heating; it could put lives at risk and that is unacceptable."

Mr Rowen, the Lib Dem Work and Pension's Shadow Minister, is also calling for an increase in the Winter Fuel Allowance. He said: "It is clear that the Winter Fuel Allowance, designed to cover the cost of pensioners' winter heating costs, is not doing its job. The rise in energy prices have not been matched by a rise in the Winter Fuel Allowance. This has led to many pensioners being left struggling to pay their bills. Recent figures show that the Winter Fuel Allowance now only covers 36% of the average winter fuel bill, compared with almost two thirds in 2003. As energy prices continue to rise it is essential that the Government take decisive measures to keep up with rising costs."