Struggling UK energy customers call for government help with bills

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THOUSANDS of worried energy consumers have signed a petition calling on the government to do more to support those struggling to pay their bills.

People’s Energy, a crowdfunded energy firm, are calling for a grant scheme designed for people in financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The petition, which went live last Sunday, has received more than 6,000 signatures since it was launched by husband and wife duo and company owners, David Pike and Karin Sode.

The couple has called for the UK and Scottish Governments to take urgent action and warn that without a grant scheme  a number of energy firms will go bust.

They also believe  many energy providers do not currently have the administrative infrastructure in place required if firms do go into administration.

David Pike, CEO of People’s Energy, said: “The sheer volume of responses we have had from consumers in only 72 hours shows the severity of this problem.

“We believe an urgent grant scheme is the only way to help the thousands across the country in severe financial distress and unable to pay their fuel bills.

“Fuel is a basic human right and people should not have to make the choice between buying food or fuel.”

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said they were committed to helping consumers.

A BEIS spokesman said: “We have agreed emergency measures to protect the energy supply of those self-isolating during this difficult time.

“Vulnerable people and anyone in financial distress should talk to their energy supplier, who will be able to discuss personal circumstances and consider options to help, including reassessing, reducing or pausing bills.”

The Scottish Government also said they were aware of the current challenges faced by many people.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are delivering unprecedented support.

“That includes £350 million of Communities Funding to ensure local authorities, community groups and the third sector are able to support people and communities affected by COVID19.

“As part of the £350 million emergency funding package, we are making an additional £45 million available for the Scottish Welfare Fund to local authorities to meet additional demand for Crisis Grant and Community Care Grants, arising as a consequence of COVID-19.

“This more than doubles investment and will help towards the costs of food and fuel.

“Legal powers relating to the energy supply market remain reserved to the UK Government.

“All UK energy suppliers have signed an agreement to ensure customers avoid disconnection through the pandemic and the Scottish Government will take all possible action to support people through the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.”

 
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