Questions Of Cash: 'We cannot afford an increase in our fuel bills'
Saturday 28 November 2009
Q. I have had a letter from Southern Electric saying that the "social care energy tariff" that we are on is being removed, so we shall have to pay more. We are classed as low fuel users, because we have been careful, efficient and have conserved energy – and because we can't afford to spend more than we do. Now that is being used against us. Southern Electric uses as its criteria the percentage of income used for fuel. We have phoned repeatedly to challenge this, without success. I would challenge this legally, but I can't afford to. I am 59 and disabled, and my husband is 62 and self- employed and we do not get any working tax credit or housing benefit. My disability allowance goes directly to pay for my motability car. I'm having sleepless nights worrying about how we will pay for the increased fuel costs. GR, Cambridge.
A. You had been on Southern Electric's "social tariff", but were removed from this. Scottish and Southern Energy, which owns Southern Electric says a record number of more than 100,000 low income customers are on the tariff. After re-examining your circumstances, Scottish and Southern accepts putting you on to a higher tariff would cause you real difficulty because of your circumstances. It has used its discretion to keep you on the social tariff for another year, after which the matter will be reviewed again.
Q. My pension fund owns an industrial unit. It had a tenant who bought electricity from British Gas Business. He left at the end of the lease in June without complying with his obligations to redecorate. Eventually he did so, finally returning the keys in October. He informed BGB before the end of June that he was leaving and that I, personally, would be paying the energy bills. I have explained the situation to both BGB, for electricity, and Scottish Power, for gas. With Scottish Power all was simple and no problem, but BGB do not seem to be able to grasp that the unit is owned by the pension fund and not me, nor am I the tenant. BGB wants payment for energy consumed by the tenant and is now asking for an extra £40 late payment charge and I have now had a letter from a debt collection agency. Yet there has been zero usage of electricity since the pension fund took responsibility of the unit in October. BGB will not discuss the matter without me giving them the business phone number of the pension fund, which is impossible as it does not have one. PW, Nuneaton.
A. British Gas now accepts that you do not have any responsibility for the outstanding debt. A spokeswoman for British Gas explains: "We've looked at the complaint and have spoken to [the reader] to find out exactly when the tenant moved out. There had been a dispute between the two parties – which has now been resolved with the involvement of a local solicitor. We were originally given a copy of the tenancy agreement which showed that [the tenant] was responsible for the property up until 29 June. We were contacted by them on 10 July with a closing meter reading – from which we finalised the account. Up until now we were not aware that there was a dispute and had not been satisfied that [the tenant's business] was liable for all bills up until the end of October 2009. The two letters of complaint from [the reader] were addressed to a different office and were never picked up by our BB [business to business] team, which is our oversight. We've explained this to [the reader] and apologised for the delay and confusion. He is happy that everything has been resolved." British Gas apologises for not replying to your complaints prior to our involvement.
Q. Over recent years, my house has been burgled several times. Personal details containing credit card statements and utility bills were taken. Subsequently, attempts have been made to use my details fraudulently. After contact from the anti-fraud agency CIFAS, I assumed these had been dealt with. In September I applied to Nationwide for an extension to my mortgage. This went fine until I provided a copy of my credit report from Experian. Nationwide insists that any addresses associated with fraudulent use of my details must be removed from the credit report before it can proceed. Apparently attempts were made to fraudulently use my ID with Santander and others. I have an identity protection insurance policy, but the insurer said I must deal with Experian directly. Experian went through the list of addresses and I assured them these were all connected with fraudulent attempts to use my details. Experian told me it would remove all of them from my report within 28 days at most "but probably within a week or so". That was nearly two months ago. SW, Belfast.
A. Experian has now corrected your credit file. When you originally contacted them it removed some of the addresses associated with your file as a result of fraudulent activity. Others required further checks to be made, which have now been completed. Experian suggests that everyone regularly checks their credit files to ensure their ID is not being misused. This is particularly important for people who believe their ID may have been misused. Nationwide points out it relies on credit information supplied and is unable to alter a report on the basis of contrary information provided by a customer. But it adds it does seek further information in some cases to assist in clarifying situations where information is inconsistent. Santander has been active in ensuring any information it has supplied about fraudulent claims in your name do not cause further credit problems.
Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But if you have a financial dilemma, we'll do our best to help. Please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tips on tipping: How and when should you give extra money for good service?
Women born in 1950s facing severe financial hardship over pensions could have fates changed by Ros Altmann - should she choose to help
Is it really that bad in the bond market?
The 10 Best money-saving sites
Pawn again: The rebirth of the high-street credit merchants
- 1 10 ways we damage our teeth – without realising
- 2 Fifa corruption arrests: Nike reported to be 'multinational sportswear company' at centre of bribery claims over Brazil shirt deal
- 3 Facebook Messenger sends 'creepily' precise location data, as revealed by Marauders Map Chrome extension
- 4 Photo of wedding guest proposing to girlfriend in front of bride and groom goes viral
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: it's just gravity — not a Mexican demon being summoned
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
iJobs Money & Business
£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is a mul...
£55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...
Day In a Page
This four-bedroom Edwardian home offers a combination of original features and contemporary design after a renovation by the current owners.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This four-bedroom home offers a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining with doors that open to the patio and garden.
On the market for the first time in more than 50 years, this six-bedroom home is a project with vast potential - spread over three floors of living space.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Surrounded by rolling countryside, this four-bedroom barn conversion comes with a self-contained, one-bedroom annexe that could serve as an office or a holiday let.
Located near Harrogate town centre, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is arranged over three storeys while a current study serves as an optional sixth bedroom.
A ground-floor flat in a country house, located a mile from Sway; this two-bedroom home would make an ideal weekend retreat on the edge of the New Forest.
On a popular residential lane in Caterham on the Hill, this four-bedroom family home offers a secluded garden and a convenient location for local schools and public transport.
Just a short walk from Westerham green, this three-bedroom cottage has a light kitchen with exposed brickwork and double doors that lead to a south-facing garden.
In a prime spot opposite the River Thames, this one-bedroom flat has an 18sq ft reception room with glass doors that open out to a private terrace.
Set in the hills above Llanwrda Village, west Wales, this 18th-century three-bedroom farmhouse has holiday-let potential from a separate barn conversion and annexe.
This charming end-of-terrace townhouse is arranged over three floors, with two double bedrooms and a private courtyard garden located at the rear of the property.
Located in the University area, this semi-detached five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors - there's even a rear garden and off-road parking too.
Only a few minutes' drive from the charming town of Marlow, this two-bedroom home sits on the private riverside estate of Harleyford.
This detached four-bedroom home in Middleyard is arranged over two floors, with features that include a wood-burning stove and bespoke oak staircase.
In a row of eight detached Georgian residences, this five-bedroom home offers views of The Sound, Mount Edgcumbe and Cornwall from its impressive veranda and full-length balcony.
If you love cooking for friends this two-bedroom flat - complete with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station and an open-plan kitchen/dining area - will go down a treat.
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
Surrounded by the Western fells, this five-bedroom Georgian home retains many original features including panel-plastered ceilings, sash windows and fireplaces.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B, subject to change of use permissions.
A former period coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool