British Gas welcomes the attempts by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition to keep fuel poverty on the political agenda and we urge politicians of all parties to undertake a radical review of the measures to tackle fuel poverty.
We believe that available resources must be targeted at those who need it most. The Government currently spends £2.7bn per annum on the Winter Fuel Allowance. This is a helpful handout to all pensioners, but it makes no sense for wealthy pensioners and people living on the Costa Del Sol to receive it when millions of hard pressed low income families go without. British Gas calls on the Government to reform the winter fuel allowance to target it at those most in need and to ensure that the allowance is credited directly to the recipient's fuel bill. Together with the support available to customers through their energy supplier, this could more than halve energy bills for the poorest.
British Gas has been working with NGOs and the voluntary sector over a number of years to alleviate fuel poverty. We are spending over £500 million to help our most vulnerable customers between 2008 and 2011, more than any other company in Britain. Already this year we have helped more than a million hard-pressed families with reduced rate tariffs, access to free impartial debt advice and free energy efficiency measures.