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Energy Prices and Keeping the Most Vulnerable Warm

November 2008

All of us are affected by increases in fuel costs, caused by the unprecedented competition for fossil fuels. That has pushed gas prices up, and in the UK, high gas prices have helped to push up the price of electricity too, due to the relatively high proportion of electricity generated from gas.  As we head into winter, it is crucial that people who are the most vulnerable – those on low incomes, with disabilities, children and elderly people – are helped to be able to afford fuel for heating.  The Government is helping people in a number of ways.

The CERT (Carbon Emissions Reduction Target) requires energy companies to provide help to people to reduce their energy use – especially those on low incomes. This includes providing people with help to insulate their homes properly – this is in addition to the “Warm Front” scheme which can help with insulation and central heating costs if you own your home or rent from a private landlord – for more information, follow the link to Warm Front’s website at the end of this article.  

The Government has also required energy suppliers to provide energy at affordable prices to those customers who qualify for the “Social Tariff  of lower energy prices, providing the cheapest available tariff of energy prices.      

A Social Tariff is being provided by all of the major energy suppliers.  In order to qualify, customers need to be deemed to be vulnerable  - that is, people over 60, people with a disability or suffering from a chronic illness, or families with a child under sixteen and who are on a low income.

For example, Scottish Southern Energy (SSE) offers its most vulnerable customers 20% off their bills, irrespective of payment method, as well as free insulation and a range of other energy saving measures. You are a customer of SSE if your provider is Southern Electric, Scottish Hydro Electric, SWALEC, or Atlantic, and you can contact SSE on 0800 300 111.  SSE’s energy efficiency line is 0800 072 7201.

SSE also supplies Ebico ( ) the UK’s only not-for-profit energy supplier.  Ebico offers fairly priced energy for all of its customers, regardless of how they choose to pay.  Because of its ethical approach, I have chosen Ebico as my own energy supplier.  

If your energy supplier is another company, it is well worth contacting them to ask about their Social Tariff if you think that you may qualify for the tariff.

Useful Weblinks

The Energy Saving Trust :

The Home Heat Helpline:

Warm Front:



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