PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 1st February 2009 - 27 Audley Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1XF - www.kentgreenparty.org 0845 257 4236 – 01732 355185 – 07747 036192
NB This release may be printed as a letter, where appropriate, at the discretion of the recipient
THE SCANDAL OF PRE-PAYMENT METERS
Kent Green Party wants pre-payment meters removed from all social housing and private rented accommodation in the County. These meters increase bills for the poorest of Kent’s residents. Steve Dawe comments:
“Kent Green Party wants to see an end to the scandal of pre-payment meters. These meters increase the energy bills of the poorest of Kent’s residents and should be removed from all social housing and private rented accommodation. We are urging all the Councils in Kent to take action to identify where these meters are being used, and to get them removed. Why is this happening?
“On 11th December 1990 John Major’s government privatised what once were the area electricity boards. In the 18 years since then, neither the Conservative or Labour governments have acted to protect our poorest citizens from the surcharges applied to pre-payment meters. Those with the smallest incomes whether they be benefits, pensions or minimum wage employment often have no choice but to use the pre-payment meter for their energy needs. It is an outrage that they also are faced with higher prices than those able to afford billed metering.
Energywatch has found that pre-payment users could be paying up to £567, 42%, more a year than affluent customers using Internet tariffs.
It is a huge regulatory failure that the successive governments of John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have not taken action. The National Housing Federation estimate that over a million people in fuel poverty would benefit from changes to pre-payment charges. We know change is not beyond the realm of possibility because within our United Kingdom solutions have been found: In Northern Ireland pre-pay customers actually receive a 2.5% discount and can top-up over the phone 24/7. With, according to National Energy Action, 5.4 million households in fuel poverty - and about 1,000 people a day being forcibly put onto pre-payment meters because of debt - this is a growing crisis. Immediate action is needed now, today.”
FURTHER INFORMATION: Steve Dawe on 01732 355185 or 0845 257 4236 or mobile 07747 036192. Contact address as above. The assistance of Jason Kitcat, a Green Party councillor in Brighton, is gratefully acknowledged.