ENERGY COMPANIES URGED TO END PRE-PAY METER RIP-OFF
associations across the North West have turned up the heat on the
main energy companies in the region. As part of the National Housing
Federation campaign, 20 North West associations have urged the
companies to align pre-payment meter (PPM) tariffs in line with best
quarterly bill rate in a bid to help bring low-income consumers in
from the cold. The joint letter has been sent to the chief
executives of all the energy companies operating in the North West
calling for urgent action.
Last week British Gas owner Centrica raised gas prices by a record
35% and electricity prices by 9% and the other leading energy
companies are likely to make similar rises. Those on PPM, often low
income families, can already pay up to £298 more for their energy
than those who are better off. Around 187,400 households in the
North West already suffer from fuel poverty according to the
Government. With massive hikes in prices and greater rises
predicted, this number is likely to grow sharply.
The Government has been advising customers to switch supplier to
make savings on rising gas and electricity bills. However according
to figures from the Department for Business, Enterprise and
Regulatory Reform five million people who have prepayment gas and
electricity meters have ended up paying more.
The Government has acknowledged that pre-payment meter customers get
an unfair deal. The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, recently said:-
"we want to see the 5 million customers on pre-payment meters
given a fairer deal" and has given energy suppliers a
deadline of next winter to sort this out
Sallie Bridgen, National Housing Federation regional manager said:-
"Too often, the poorest in society end up paying more for the
kind of services most people take for granted. With predicted fuel
price rises of up to 60% over the next year it is now more urgent
than ever that action is taken. By working collectively,
associations can put pressure on the energy companies and the
Government to put an end to fuel poverty and give a fair deal for
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FIGURES FOR PLAYDAY 2008 REVEAL CHILDREN DEPRIVED OF ADVENTUROUS
released for Playday 2008 show that children are facing serious
restrictions to their opportunities for adventurous play. An ICM
survey commissioned by Play England for Playday shows that 51% of
children aged 7 to 12 years are not allowed to climb a tree without
adult supervision and 49% also report that they have been stopped
from climbing trees because it was considered to be too dangerous.
The research also finds a change in the places where children and
young people today experience adventurous and challenging play. As
children, 70% of adults enjoyed most of their adventures in natural
outdoor environments. This compares with only 29% of children today
as both the space and the freedom to roam has dramatically declined
in recent years. Today, children’s experiences of adventure are
confined to designated areas such as playgrounds (56%), their homes
(48%) or theme parks (44%).
Playday, this year supported by Persil, is the annual celebration of
children’s right to play and takes place on Wednesday 6 August 2008.
This year’s theme – Give us a go! calls for a rethink of our
risk-averse culture of banning conkers in the playground and
outlawing tree climbing. The campaign highlights the need for
children to experience risky and challenging play in order to ensure
they are able to manage risk in their daily lives.
‘Playing is an essential part of growing up,’ said
Adrian Voce, Director of Play England. ‘Starting from their
earliest play experiences, children both need and want to push their
boundaries in order to explore their limits and develop their
abilities. Children would never learn to walk, climb stairs or ride
a bicycle unless they were strongly motivated to respond to
challenges; but we must accept that these things inevitably involve
an element risk.
Adventurous play that both challenges and excites children helps
instil critical life skills. Constantly wrapping children in cotton
wool can leave them ill equipped to deal with stressful or
challenging situations they might encounter later in life.’
Hundreds of fantastic events will be taking place across the UK to
celebrate Playday. In honour of this year’s theme, local communities
will be organising adventurous play opportunities, such as go-kart
building, assault courses and tree climbing. To mark Playday,
Play England has published a body of research, which looks benefits
and challenges of enabling children to manage their own risks whilst
playing. Play England will also publish top tips to help
inspire children to engage in adventurous play outside their home
and within their community. This year Playday is pleased to
announce that Persil is supporting the campaign as part of their
Every Child Has The Right campaign.