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Southport and  Mersey Reporter -  Your free online newspaper service covering the Merseyside region - (Greater Liverpool).
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Updated over every Wednesday night.   Your news...   Your words...

Issue:- 20/21 January 2009

Almost 1 in 7 of people have cut down on heating their home

68% of people in the North West responsible for the cost of heating their home have cut down on their gas, electricity and home heating more than they would like in the past year in order to cut costs according to a new survey from the National Housing Federation. These finding have come as sub-zero temperatures have hit the region.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by the Federation also found that 31% of those surveyed said they spend more than 10% of their monthly income on gas and electricity bills.  And millions of prepay meter customer, who have an average household income of just £13,500, should not have to pay for the costs of supplying and maintaining the meters, according to 75% of people responsible for the cost of heating their home.

The poll found just 3% thought the energy regulator was doing a good job of protecting vulnerable customers, with 51% saying it had done a poor one.  Britain's 2.5m gas prepay customers have an average household income of just £13,500 and have been amongst those hardest hit by the economic downturn. 

British Gas has heaped further misery on its 1m prepay customers by charging them a premium of up £40 a year more for gas than those paying their bills quarterly.  British Gas' competitors have all scrapped their unpopular prepay surcharges following criticism from customers, campaigners and politicians over rip off prices.

Federation North West regional manager Sallie Bridgen said:- "The spiralling cost of energy and the impact of the recession mean heating our homes has is becoming a luxury rather than a basic human necessity. With so many people living in fuel poverty this poll highlights how the elderly, low paid and unemployed are being hit hardest. These findings come as the region experiences what some are saying is the coldest winter since 1963.  The survey shows that the overwhelming majority of people in the North West think that prepayment meter customers pay too much for their energy and that Ofgem has simply failed in its duty to protect vulnerable customers. Three out of ten of people surveyed said they spend more than 10% of their monthly income on gas and electricity bills.  British Gas should do the right thing and stop discriminating against some of its poorest customers by scrapping its hugely unpopular prepay premium and start charging them the same as its quarterly billed customers. Energy suppliers have a legitimate right to fit meters to recover debts, but to then penalise hard up people by forcing them to pay higher prices for their energy is an outrage."

The Search is on for Voice of the Year!

GRANDSTAND Group, the team behind Horse of the Year Show and the British Open Show Jumping Championships, is staging a search for a new voice in equestrian commentating. Grandstand Group is looking for someone who admires the work of world-renowned commentators such as Mike Tucker or Nick Brooks-Ward, the voices presenting the biggest equestrian national and international events for live audiences and television coverage, and who feel they have the perfect tone and personality to commentate on prestigious sporting equestrian events.

Grandstand Group is now taking entries for those who feel destined for the commentary box! For your chance to introduce world-class riders and famous displays at Horse of the Year Show and the British Open Show Jumping Championships, visit either  or for details on how to enter and the competition terms and conditions. The finals will be held at the British Open 2010 in April and will be judged by three special guest judges. The winner will join the HOYS 2010 commentary team to be part of the world’s most famous horse show in October. Entries close on 3 February 2010.

The British Open Show Jumping Championships takes place at the NEC, Birmingham from Wednesday 7 April to Saturday 10 April 2010. For tickets, call the Box Office on:- 0844 581 1301 or visit the official:-

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