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Consumer Focus commits to off gas households

New customer watchdog Consumer Focus has told MPs it is committed to representing off gas customers who rely on oil fired and solid fuel boilers.

Lord Whitty, Consumer Focus chairman, was questioned by Scottish National Party MP Mike Weir as he faced Parliament’s Business and Enterprise Committee.

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Mr Weir asked about the support that could be given to off gas customers who had not been covered by previous watchdog energywatch.

Lord Whitty said: “We certainly have it within our remit and we will look at all who are disadvantaged by the supply of energy.

“”Ofgem only covered the market which was privatised and energywatch mirrored that and as a result did not cover those who were outside the grid supply and off the gas network.”

Worries about the off gas market were raised by an Ofgem report earlier this year which highlighted that off gas customers in rural areas were in particular danger of fuel poverty.

This is because they cannot access cheaper “dual fuel” rates and were often reliant on fuels which were more expensive than conventional gas and electricity.

Lord Whitty said: “Those people using oil, solid fuels and district heating need protection.
“I would regard it as part of our remit and we have particular responsibility for those in rural customers. This is a big issue.”

Mr Weir, who represents Angus in Scotland, said he was “delighted” by Lord Whitty’s commitment.