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POOR ARE RIPPED-OFF’

PUBLISHED: 17:37 09 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:56 23 August 2010

HOUSING bosses have written to energy suppliers accusing them of ripping off their poorest customers. Gravesend Churches Housing Association, of London Road, Northfleet, joins 16 other associations across the UK in the attack. Under guidance of the Nati

HOUSING bosses have written to energy suppliers accusing them of ripping off their poorest customers.

Gravesend Churches Housing Association, of London Road, Northfleet, joins 16 other associations across the UK in the attack.

Under guidance of the National Housing Federation they have sent a joint letter to chief executives demanding they lower their tariffs for customers using prepayment meters.

Simon Nunn, head of the South region of the National Housing Federation, said: "The region's housing associations have joined forces to urge the energy giants to lower their tariffs and stop ripping off their poorest tenants.

"We look forward to hearing back from the firms' chief executives to explain why, despite making huge profits, they continue to overcharge their poorest customers."

The group say prepayment meter users can be charged up to £300 a year more for their fuel than wealthier customers who are able to set up online accounts. They also pay up to £89 more than customers who pay their bills on a quarterly basis.

Mr Nunn added: "The big energy companies have been asked to give their prepayment meter customers a fairer deal by the chancellor. They have so far refused to do this.

"We would urge them to equalise the tariffs they charge to prepayment meter customers with those charged to people on standard credit. Anything less is morally unacceptable."

In the letter, the groups urge British Gas, E.ON, EDF, Southern Energy and Npower to charge their prepayment meter customers the same rates as those paying their bills quarterly.

E.ON say that according to Ofgem figures only 20 per cent of customers who use prepayment meters are classed as fuel poor and that some of the difference in price is down to maintenance work.

A spokesperson for E.ON said: "The difference between an E.ON customer paying promptly for their electricity and gas when their bill arrives versus paying on prepayment meter is £65 per year in the Seeboard region, at Ofgem average consumption.

"Some of that difference is made up of the additional costs associated with the maintenance of prepayment meters."

jason.goodyer@archant.co.uk

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