The Daily Telegraph

Energy firms may be given addresses of those on benefits

- By Matt Oliver and Tom Rees

THE addresses of benefit claimants would be shared with energy companies under a plan being discussed in Whitehall to help vulnerable households with their bills after blanket support is withdrawn.

Under the proposal, which is being considered by industry and the Treasury, suppliers would be given access to a database of people receiving Universal Credit so support could be provided to those who are their customers.

Another idea being considered is socalled tapering, industry sources said, where the electricit­y and gas prices paid by households would be tiered depending on how much they use.

This means customers would pay a lower price per unit up to a certain consumptio­n limit, then higher costs for consumptio­n above that point, encouragin­g households to use less energy.

But it would probably need to be paired with a major expansion of the Government’s home insulation drive, to ensure poorer families living in draughty homes or those who cannot easily cut their usage would not be unfairly penalised, sources said.

The ideas are among those being discussed with Treasury officials after Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, said the universal “energy price guarantee” to households would end in April. His decision risks leaving millions of families exposed to annual fuel bills of £5,000 – the expected level of the energy price cap in the spring – unless a replacemen­t support package is drawn up.

The Chancellor has said the current £60billion guarantee leaves the public finances too exposed to volatile internatio­nal gas markets and that the new scheme must be less expensive and targeted at “those in need”.

‘If you thought the situation with mortgages was already bad, a £5,000 energy bill is going to make things worse’

But yesterday energy industry sources warned that the situation was complicate­d by the fact that millions of middle-income households are also facing “catastroph­ic” increases in their bills next spring if they are not given help.

A government spokesman said: “We are protecting people from high energy bills caused by Putin’s devastatin­g invasion of Ukraine. A Treasury-led review will consider how to support households from April 2023, focusing support for those in need while reducing costs for the taxpayer.”

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