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Hulne urges public 'to hit back'

People should “hit back” at energy companies who increase prices, a minister has said after Scottish Power hiked charges.

Energy secretary Chris Huhne urged people to switch to a cheaper provider and “vote with your feet” to save cash.

Scottish Power has put up electricity prices by 10 per cent and gas charges by 19 per cent, sparking fears other power companies will follow that example.

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has said the Government should intervene to encourage competition and halt large price increases.

Mr Huhne told the Observer newspaper: “Consumers don’t have to take price increases lying down. If an energy company hits you with a price increase, you can hit them back where it hurts - by shopping around and voting with your feet.”

The Lib Dem minister is set to reveal new moves to help smaller firms compete in the energy sector this week.

He said: “Right now, only one in five people switch suppliers. I want to see more switching, more competition and more companies in the market. The big six only have a few minnows snapping at them, who are kept artificially small. By scrapping red tape for small players they can become serious challengers and help keep bills down.”