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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 December 2007, 17:30 GMT
MP calls for action on fuel bills
Woman sitting in front of fire
Mike Weir believes price rises will hit the poorest hard
The MP for Angus has called on the UK Government to force energy companies to reduce charges for poorer families and pensioners.

The SNP's Mike Weir has warned that predicted fuel price rises in the new year will hit the poorest hard.

He wants firms to be compelled to introduce so-called "social tariffs".

Mr Weir is also concerned at the increased cost of buying energy through pre-payment meters, which are often used by the less well-off.

'Utter Scandal'

Mr Weir said: "It is an utter scandal that, in an energy rich nation like Scotland, poorer families and pensioners face a bleak new year wondering how they are going to afford to heat their homes.

"The Scottish Government has rightly increased investment in the central heating scheme for pensioners, but this will not tackle the problem as long as energy prices keep rocketing."

A household is said to be in fuel poverty if it needs to spend more than 10% of its income to maintain satisfactory heating, according to a UK government definition.

Mr Weir said: "The Westminster Government should insist that all energy companies introduce realistic social tariffs to allow those in poorer households to heat their homes without fear.

"They should also tackle the long standing scandal of the cost of energy through pre-payment meters and insist that the cost is lowered to that which can be achieved through direct debit payments.

"It is simply not acceptable for Gordon Brown's government to hide behind the excuse that consumers can switch suppliers to get better deals."

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