UK Energy companies have been accused by a watchdog organisation of unfairly profiteering from poor and low income users when compared to more well off customers.
Energywatch , an independent gas and electricity watchdog have accused the suppliers of making £296 million in unjustified top-up charges for those on low incomes using pre-payment meters when compared to those more able to pay via direct debit.
In addition these companies are estimated to be charging customers who use pre-payment meters £543 million more than direct debit customers.
Many of these low income ‘fuel-poverty’ users receive or can receive a special social tariff aimed at protecting the vulnerable from the rising cost of gas and electricity which varies from supplier to supplier but can be as much as a £122 discount a year. However the watchdog found that this discount, in many cases, was more than compensated for by the higher top up fees and per unit fuel tariffs then put in place on the same vulnerable customers.