Debt rule bid to help energy users

Electricity meterChanging "outdated regulation" to raise the level of debt below which pre-paid meter customers may change their energy supplier, would make a "huge difference to hundreds of thousands of people", a Labour MP has argued.

John Robertson told the Commons altering the rules would ensure a "fairer system" was in place.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
The MP for Glasgow North West, said that he was presenting the Pre-Paid Meters (Level of Debt) Bill "to get some actual movement" on the issue and wanted to see a change before winter and "before other people die because of their energy costs".

His Bill would require the Secretary of State to raise the level of debt below which pre-paid meter customers may change their energy supplier.

Mr Robertson said: "Through raising this level of debt at which pre-paid meter customers may change their energy supplier from £200 to £350, around 200,000 customers will be able to escape crippling energy tariffs. It's a tiny change, but would make a huge difference."

Mr Robertson hit out at the profits made by the 'big six' energy companies arguing this was a time they should "give something back".

He added: "If every single one of those 200,000 customers were to save a maximum amount of £138 a year, it would cost energy companies a combined £27.5 million."

Mr Robertson raised concerns about the examples of people reducing their energy usage to save money to pay the debt off, claiming: "The number of pensioners dying from cold has nearly doubled in five years."

He said: "Some of these people are cutting down their energy so they can have money to pay off their debt, this is completely unacceptable and for 200,000 people we can tackle this by giving them the freedom to make their debt more manageable through switching to a cheaper tariff or company."

Mr Robertson said that £478 million was owed to energy companies, adding: "So by making it easier for a large proportion of customers to pay it back the energy companies can recoup their losses".

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