Cameron tells families: shop around to slash energy bills

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RESIDENTS facing soaring energy prices have been urged by the Prime Minister to switch suppliers to find themselves the best deal.

David Cameron will tell a summit today that people should scour the market for the cheapest deal as the cost of gas and electricity continues to increase.

This is despite criticism of the sector that firms are profiteering at the expense of people desperate to make short-term savings on fuel for their homes.

It has been warned today that there will be no let up in the rise, with a leading charity saying that householders could have to pay an extra £300 a year within the next decade.

Mr Cameron will address a conference today at Westminster, where the six biggest energy companies will be in attendance.

In a joint statement with Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, he said: “Our intention is for today’s summit to be the start of a more active engagement with consumers, with us all working to deliver an energy market that is trusted, simple and transparent.

“A market that puts the consumer first and gets these energy bills down as much as possible.

“We are determined that everything that can be done, will be done, to help people bring their energy bills down.”

He expressed sympathy for those struggling to keep up with their energy repayments.

“These price rises couldn’t come at a worse time for consumers who are already feeling the pinch from rising petrol prices and the cost of the weekly shop,” he added.

Mr Cameron’s encouragement for people to scout about for the best deal has been met with some criticism. While it seems an appealing tactic on the face of it, critics said, it may not be a sustainable approach.

Latest figures show only a minority switch supplier in pursuit of a cheaper tariff.

Last year, only 15 per cent changed their gas company, while 17 per cent altered their electric supply.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said: “There is nothing to stop those power companies giving up those profits.

“Instead of an improved bottom line, they could use this extra money to stop crippling prices rises.”

It is understood today’s meeting will discuss a number of possible initiatives which could ease the burden on the public.

Those include free or subsidised insulation installation, and pensioners receiving an energy bill rebate.

This morning, Friends of the Earth released its latest projection for future prices.

It said a continued reliance on fossil fuels was pushing up the average cost of a household bill.

amorris@edinburghnews.com