Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Who's The Biggest "Fuel"?

Hello My Friends,

Hope youre well today and not too fog bound. During the last few years I have been working within the rules of the Data Protection Act (as have many people) and I understand the principles behind this legislation.

However there are some cases I could mention where people definitely miss out on assistance or on being given useful information because of this Act or peoples' interpretation of it. In fact in some instances I know of people who have to a large extent hidden behind it and used it as an excuse not to action something that is fundamental wrong!

Take the piece in the Daily Mirror yesterday - highlighted to me by my 76 years young Dad, Mr Percy Taylor.

Pension chiefs scupper £10m heating giveaway
Edited By Steve Hawkes

BUNGLING pension chiefs have forced British Gas to scrap a £10million Christmas giveaway to its poorest customers. The energy giant wanted to heat the homes of 400,000 people over 80 for free in the "12 Days of Christmas".

But the Department of Work and Pensions has effectively blocked the scheme by refusing to contact its most vulnerable customers - those on pension credit. In a letter to stunned BG bosses, DWP head of strategy Lyn Macdonald blames a "policy-based decision". She adds: "We couldn't help one commercial company and not others in the sector."

Its decision comes despite support for the idea from Chancellor Gordon Brown and energy minister Lord Truscott. There are now atleast four million Brits in fuel poverty - spending at least 10 per cent of their income on gas and electricity.

Brown was so in favour of the plan, first mooted last month, that Treasury officials tried to get BG's rivals to do the same.

The industry-wide donation would have been matched by the government and was to be included in the Chancellor's pre-Budget speech.

A BG insider told Your Money yesterday: "The DWP is stuck in the old world. Ministers have been calling for us to do more for the over-80s. But the DWP seem to be saying let pensioners shiver in the name of equal treatment." British Gas has now decided to extend its existing Winter Rebate scheme to an extra 100,000 customers instead.

This gives money back to customers on benefits such as working tax credit, council tax credit or disability allowance.

A DWP spokeswoman told Your Money it would be "anticompetitive" to help one business. She added: "We would rather work through energy regulator Ofgem to help all people through all providers."

The DWP added there would have been data-protection concerns.

You can draw your own conclusions I am sure - what an outrageous example of beaurocracy and "PC"ness - peoples' lives could have been saved. I hope the people at the DWP who made this crass decision don't live to regret it if someone who could have been helped but for this block perishes during the Winter months. I pray for a mild Winter and for some sense to be injected into our Government at the DWP and inside Ofgem!

Make good choices.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel


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