We already know that the privatised energy monopolies are making profits our of their poor customers:
Firms make about half a billion pounds a year in extra charges from prepayment meters, Consumer Focus estimates.
About 1,000 prepayment meters a day are being installed in households where people have got into debt over their energy bills, it says.
Now we learn that the energy giants are boosting their profits by increasing customers direct debits – even when they are in credit!
Millions of people pay their gas and electricity bills by direct debit but two price rises this year alone mean many consumers are unclear how much they should be paying each month to ensure they clear the amount due on their bills.
Mr Luff, MP for Mid Worcestershire, believes firms have been raising direct debit payments even when customers’ accounts are in credit and warns this practice may be widespread.
“There’s a real temptation for the companies to boost their cash flow at a time of economic recession,” he said.
“I think things are getting worse and there will be people in fuel poverty who are paying by direct debit who can’t afford these huge increases.
“So I think Ofgem need to investigate urgently to see if they think this is correct – that the fuel companies are using this quite a lot. And we need to do something about it.”
Ofgem said it has not received any evidence of the misuse of the direct debit scheme.
Which just goes to show that Ofgem is a reactive regulator – as intended when our energy companies were sold off.
The solution is very clear: return the energy utilities to public ownership and democratic control.