I hadn’t fully thought through the linkages between fuel poverty and affordable housing in rural areas until the housing seminar we ran in Cheltenham yesterday – look out for the write up of it on the RSN website to follow. Holly Sims of Calor gave a brilliant presentation on their work to develop real and pragmatic solutions to the challenges of rural fuel poverty. All of which leads me to think how important this issue is and how challenging it has become in the context of Russian Oligarch style behaviour by some of our energy companies. According to delegates there is a real issue about the buying out of local oil companies compromising the effectiveness of bulk oil schemes. Does this resonate with you?

Anyway this article offers some potential relief (albeit I suspect short term) by indicating that one fuel company at least is leading a price cutting charge – and before you rankle at my use of the pejorative term “Oligarch” just have a little think about how many other areas of commercial practice have the scope to generate 4 million formal complaints!

“EDF has become the first of the big six to make cuts after hefty increases last year. It said the price cut was in response to declining wholesale prices, which are down 9% since EDF put prices up last November.

EDF raised its gas prices by 15.4% and electricity bills by 4.5% last year. This compared to rises by British Gas in August 2011 of 18% for gas and 16% for electricity, and similar moves by all the other major suppliers.

But EDF’s electricity prices will not come down next month. A spokesman for the company said this was because customers had already been protected against the full rise in wholesale electricity prices. Electricity had gone up by 14% between March and September 2011, he said, but the EDF increase in November had only been 4.5%.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd welcomed the EDF cut but added: “Now the pressure is on for the rest of the major suppliers to follow suit.”The Which? investigation showed that last year there were 4m complaints to the big six (E.ON, Scottish Power, British Gas, Scottish & Southern Energy, npower and EDF) in 2011.”

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