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Energy companies agree to help with bills

UK energy companies have agreed to increase funding to help households struggling to pay gas and electricity bills. Under a deal brokered between the governments and the so-called 'big six' energy companies, an extra £225 million will be provided for their social assistance programmes. The funding is intended to alleviate the plight of families living in a state of fuel poverty - a condition defined as when ten per cent or more of a household's income is spent on energy. Up to 100,000 households are set to benefit, according to business secretary John Hutton, who was instrumental in brokering the deal. Mr Hutton said: "Thanks to the cooperation of our energy companies the amount of money being spent on social programmes to help the poorest heat their homes is now set to treble."This is a significant boost to the billions already spent by government and the energy companies, and means we can now get this vital extra support to the people who really need it in time for the coldest months this coming winter."

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