Bridget PhillipsonRising energy prices are hitting households and businesses across Wearside.

All the major energy companies are hiking their prices and few people will be left unaffected. However, it’s the low-income families and the vulnerable that will really bear the brunt.

Many of our older residents don’t have access to the internet and the cheapest tariffs. There are many people who can’t pay by direct debit and also families with pre-payment meters.

Even those of us fortunate enough to access online deals find it complex, confusing and lacking in transparency.

You could make a full-time job out of searching out the cheapest deals and staying on top of your bills.

Lib Dem Energy Secretary Chris Huhne unwisely blamed families for not shopping around. What households need is a Government that understands the pressures they’re facing and takes action against the energy companies. Not a Government minister who abdicates responsibility and tells you it’s your fault.

A large gas bill may not close Tesco, but it could be the difference between staying open or closing for small businesses across Sunderland.

As growth stalls and the economy flatlines it’s more important than ever that we support small businesses. They are vital to our local economy and provide much-needed jobs and opportunities.

They too are being hit by rising energy costs and the pressures that this brings. If the weather forecasts prove accurate, then already hard-pressed families and businesses face an exceptionally tough winter ahead.

This article was originally published in the Sunderland Echo on: Wednesday 28th September 2011

You can view the original article here

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