• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

MPs call for limit on payment 'stealth tax'

THE Government must limit a "stealth tax on the poor" imposed by energy companies on customers who do not pay by direct debit, Parliament has heard.

Nearly 180 MPs, from all the major parties, have signed a Commons motion calling on the coalition to limit the charges. It states official Government statistics have found the charges add an average of £114 to a bill.

It adds that 45% of customers do not pay their bills by direct debit and urges the industry regulator Ofgem to set up an inquiry in to the charges.

Conservative MP Robert Halfon (Harlow), who led the debate in the Commons, said energy firms found to be charging disproportionate fees should be fined or subject to a windfall tax to ensure cash is passed back to the consumer.

He also called for fundamental reforms to the system, including charging customers who pay their bills late, greater transparency and a "moderate cap" on direct debit fees. The Tory said his investigation produced "shocking" results, with 17 companies out of the 26 that replied charging their customers different rates depending on the payment method.

Mr Halfon told the Commons: "I believe these charges effectively act as a stealth tax on the poor."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

210619