ENERGY firms can continue ripping off their poorest customers by overcharging them for prepayment of gas and electricity, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced yesterday.
Prepay customers spend £300 a year more for their energy than those that pay monthly or quarterly bills by direct debit, the watchdog found after instigating tariffs.
The CMA said it would introduce a cap on such overcharging by the big six energy suppliers, but critics say it’s not nearly enough.
Energy watchdog Ofgem said yesterday that the cap would cut just £75 off the excessive charges.
Campaign group Fuel Poverty Action (FPA) said that the CMA had heard “devastating personal testimonies” in November from people who could not afford to heat or power their homes.
Despite having heard the stories, the authority chose to side with the bosses in the privatised sector, the group said.
FPA spokeswoman Ruth London said: “Thousands of people die every year because they cannot afford to heat their homes and millions live in fear of the heating, lights, and fridge clicking off when a meter runs out.
“Of course, every penny does count, but the reality is bitter for customers who cannot afford this blatant discrimination against those who have least to begin with.
“The Prime Minister’s outraged words about an exploitative market and her autumn promises to take action on fuel bills that are ‘just not right’ have so far led to nothing but more pain. This pathetic cap is no exception.”
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