Energy Bills: Pensioners Face E.ON Price Hike
Labour claims the Government's efforts to simplify energy bills has backfired after one of the 'big six' suppliers withdrew its discount tariff for the over-60s.
E.ON's 'StayWarm' deal, which offered fixed-price energy for older customers based on their average consumption levels, will come to an end at the weekend.
The company said the move was forced by changes to the number of tariffs permitted by regulator Ofgem.
A company spokesman said: "Due to new Ofgem rules, which includes limiting the number of products we can offer, the StayWarm tariff will close as current contracts come to an end from October 7.
"We are writing to all customers as their contracts come to an end, and where possible we are also contacting them by phone with the aim of speaking to each customer to help ensure they switch to the best product for their needs."
StayWarm, which allowed older people to plan their energy bills throughout the year, had been available to households inhabited by at least one person aged over 60.
The premium paid depended on the number of inhabitants and bedrooms, as well as geographical region.
But it had been unavailable for new customers since September last year.
The Government's energy regulator Ofgem is currently reforming the market in order to simplify bills, although consumer watchdog Which? has criticised its plans, claiming companies will still be allowed to include a standing charge as well as a unit price in their tariffs.
Which? has called for simple tariffs, without standing charges and displayed in the style of petrol forecourt prices, to make it easier to spot the cheapest deal.
Luciana Berger, Labour's shadow energy and climate change minister, said of E.ON's decision: "This is yet more evidence that David Cameron's cack-handed reforms to energy tariffs have completely backfired.
"He promised to force the energy companies to put everyone on the cheapest tariffs - but now it looks like some pensioners will be paying more than they were before.
"If David Cameron is serious about tackling the cost of living crisis he should back Labour's plans to reset the energy market, freeze energy bills, reform Britain's energy market and put all over 75s on the cheapest tariff."
Labour's pledge to freeze energy bills for 20 months should the party win the next election sparked a furious backlash from the energy suppliers, saying the move threatened investment in Britain's energy structure and therefore blackouts.