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: email@example.com
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Questions of Cash: What are my rights if my leak is caused by neighbours’ roofs?
Pension mortgages: 'The advice I was given was wrong and now I face losing my home'
10 tips for taking out a personal loan
Bargain Hunter: Win a Bentley competition to be driving in a winter wonderland
Bank-beating exchange rates on your international payments
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
- 5 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Douglas Carswell tells Ukip to stop blaming foreigners as youth poll shows Nigel Farage is even less popular than Nick Clegg
iJobs Money & Business
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...
Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...
Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...
Day In a Page
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens