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Alliance concerns at Phoenix gas price hikes

September 22, 2005 12:00 AM

Alliance Councillor, Michael Long, have expressed concerns about the impact of the proposed 30% price increase announced today by Phoenix Natural Gas particularly on those from lower income backgrounds. He renewed calls for a review in the company's direct debit billing policy which he said would make the likelihood of large bills at the end of the first year of use, in particular, very likely, in light of the new price rises.

Cllr. Long said, "I am very concerned about the impact that these huge price hikes are likely to have on consumers. I am particularly concerned about the effect on those from lower income backgrounds who will be hardest hit by the rises and who are most likely to suffer from increased fuel poverty. I think that the impact on consumers will be worsened by the fact that the entire increase occurs at once and would have thought that when tariffs were to be raised by such an extent that there could have been staged or phased increases.

"I believe that this changing Phoenix,s billing policy for direct debit customers even more urgent. At present Phoenix only bills direct debit

customers annually, with the result that they can face huge shortfalls in their payments, particularly in the first year of use. These price rises

will only worsen the problem, as shortfalls will potentially be larger, and I would appeal for Phoenix to make changes to their direct debit billing so

that customers receive bills every quarter, as they do from other utilities."

ENDS

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