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Big Six meeting on fuel poverty "can only be a good thing"

by Aaron James

Hull Foodbank, part of the Christian charity Trussell Trust, was speaking as representatives from British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power and SSE met to address the issue.

The meeting was convened by charity Turn2Us, which has said two million people are in fuel poverty.

The charity has said only half of those people know financial help is available to people struggling to pay their energy bills. It also said a similar number have cut spending in other areas in order to afford their bills.

Last year npower teamed up with the Trussell Trust to turn some of its foodbanks into fuelbanks, where users referred to them could receive energy vouchers as well as food to help them along.

It's hoped today's meeting between the six energy giants will see more help become available for those who're struggling.

Speaking on Premier's News Hour Sarah Sidwell, from Hull Foodbank, said: "I've just spoken to a lady this morning. She's just developed a chest infection because her home has been cold for weeks now. She came in this morning with six cardigans on her and she was still shivering.

"I think it [the meeting] can only be a good thing, that they are looking at joining up together.

"With them and government and local councils I think it's important that we're all involved together to make sure that people don't need to use foodbanks or go cold in the winter."

Anthony Pygram from the energy regulator Ofgem said: "Suppliers should treat their customers fairly, so if people are vulnerable, they should recognise that and give those customers the help that they need.

"If customers are concerned that they could be going into debt with their supplier, they should contact the supplier as soon as possible."

"Suppliers must take into account the individual's ability to pay when they set up debt repayment arrangements."

Listen to Premier's Alex Williams speaking to Sarah Sidwell on the News Hour:

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