Easier Payment Route Of The Poor
With oil prices hitting yet another high mark in August, the Tories have devised a way that they think will help UK households reduce their energy bill by £100 pounds a year. They are targeting more than four million families who have accounts with the Post Office and therefore cannot benefit from lower energy and water tariffs offered to customers paying their bills by direct debit. The Tories say they will reform post office accounts so that for the first time they can be used to pay utility bills using the equivalent of a direct debit. Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said: “It is deeply unfair that many of the poorest households end up paying more for their energy and water bills because they don’t have bank accounts and can’t pay by direct debit”. For every one of their post office customers who agrees to switch over to paying by direct debit, the energy companies will pay the Post Office a fee of between £5 and £10 for administering the service. Not paying bills by direct debit adds a substantial penalty onto household bills because of the higher collection costs faced by energy companies dealing with customers without bank accounts. It is estimated that direct debit customers save up to £80 a year over standard customers, such as those with post office accounts, according to Energywatch. As well as helping to fund the plan, the Tories reckon the fees will generate enough money that the Post Office could have a surplus of about £20 million a year. The funds “could help keep some Post Offices from going to the wall as a result of Labour cuts”, the Tories said.