Ofgem has been urged to stop alleged ‘discriminatory policies’ over standing charges.
Campaigners from Fuel Poverty Action have sent a letter to the energy regulator claiming the administrative costs of taking on customers from failed energy suppliers, which are loaded on the standing charge element of energy bills, put lives at further risk.
Standing charges are a fixed daily amount consumers pay to cover the costs to supply gas and electricity, no matter how much energy they use.
The level of these standing charges varies in different regions as suppliers set prices based on differences in network charges and the complexity of the network infrastructure.
The campaign group notes that people are already rationing heat and power while being forced to pay for industry failures.
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 enough energy free to cover their basic needs for heating, cooking and power.”
An Ofgem spokesperson told ELN: “Our top priority is to protect consumers including making sure bill payers pay a fair price. We know this is a challenging time.
“Customers struggling to pay for energy may be eligible for extra help such as debt repayment plans, emergency credit for prepayment metered customers, priority support and schemes like the Winter Fuel Payment or Warm Home Discount rebate.
“We are strengthening the retail market through effective stress testing of suppliers, which will reduce the cost of companies leaving the market as far as possible.”