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Ofgem: Social tariffs must be reduced

Fuel poverty is to be tackled by new rules from energy regulator Ofgem.Social tariffs, used by low-income customers, must be brought in line with internet deals according to the new guidance - which was issued following complaints that many online offers from providers came in at a lower price.A household is defined as being "fuel poor" when over ten per cent of its income is devoted to paying for gas and electricity."Previously some suppliers' social tariffs were not as good as their internet tariffs which were the cheapest deals around," an Ofgem spokesman admitted.Energywatch, another watchdog, welcomed the move - but warned that problems still remained for low income households."The guidance has not addressed the confusion that fuel poor consumers can face on whether they are eligible for their suppliers' social tariff and will not ensure that all those who need such assistance are eligible for these tariffs," it commented.News of the move comes on a day when EDF announced bill hikes of around 20 per cent - due to increases in wholesale energy costs.Centrica, owners of British Gas, and Scottish & Southern have also indicated recently that they will impose bill increases in the near future.

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