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Provided by Mae Stewart, Editor UNISON Retired members Newsletter, Dundee, Perth and Angus.
Please note that this is not definitive information about benefits but will provide a signpost as to where to get up to date information. Please check the sources first. UNISON Scotland can take no responsibility for information that may be outdated or inaccurate.

Issue 43 May 2012

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Energy companies to promote best tariffs

Age Scotland has welcomed the announcement that the 'big 6' energy providers have agreed to advise customers annually which tariff within their range of products would best suit their household fuel use.

Following discussions with the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, suppliers also agreed that when customers' existing contracts come to an end, they will automatically be transferred onto the best deal for them, rather than the more costly 'standard' tariff.

Age Scotland Policy Officer Greg McCracken, said: "This announcement is good news for consumers, but is only a small step in the right direction. We would still encourage consumers to shop around, beyond their own supplier, to ensure they're getting the best deal for them.

"We still believe that energy companies can make pricing more transparent and straightforward, and a single letter per year to customers doesn't by any means represent a solution to the growing problem of fuel poverty."

Age Scotland remains concerned that many consumers are unaware that energy companies have a statutory obligation to provide advice and information for eligible groups. If you are struggling with the cost of your energy, contact your supplier to find out the support to which you may be entitled.

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Warm Homes Discount changes catch older people out

Age Scotland has been contacted by concerned individuals who are no longer eligible for reduced social tariffs as part of changes to the Warm Homes Discount (WHD). One person who got in touch saw their fuel tariff increase by nearly 50% overnight.

Age Scotland's Policy Officer, Greg McCracken, said: "Over the next few years, the annual discount available to customers eligible for support will increase which is obviously welcome. However, this does mean that many older people who previously received support towards their bills, such as reduced tariffs, will lose out."

Those remaining in receipt of support from their energy companies will now be allocated to either the core or broader groups - which are supposed to represent their relative risk from fuel poverty.

However, one of the concerns about the WHD is the difficulty of targeting the fuel poor - particularly as the costs of WHD are passed on to all consumers. Consequently, those individuals who find they are now excluded from the core and broader groups could face the combined blows of receiving no subsidy as well as higher fuel bills.

Greg McCracken added "Some energy suppliers may provide a discretionary discount to customers in the broader group, and each energy supplier uses different eligibility criteria to assess who receives support. Therefore, Age Scotland would encourage individuals to contact and engage with their supplier to see what support is available."

The above information was provided by Age Scotland. They can be reached at: www.agescotland.org.uk Or by calling: Age Scotland Helpline on: 0845 125 9732

My apologies for any misquotes
Mae Stewart

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