Gov't 'needs to do more about energy prices'

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Gordon Brown needs to ensure the upcoming Budget includes measures to help families cope with energy prices, according to watchdog Consumer Focus.

The body states that the government's aims to end fuel poverty by 2016 will be "pure fantasy" unless energy efficiency measures are included in the Budget.

It suggests these should include improvements to current energy efficiency schemes such as Warm Front, reductions in VAT on energy-efficient products and action to end unfair gas and electricity prices.

"Expensive energy bills remain a huge problem for the poorest households and unless the government invests in solutions now, millions of customers will suffer real hardship and fuel poverty levels will continue to spiral," comments Phillip Cullum, deputy chief executive at Consumer Focus.

According to figures from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, in 2006, there were approximately 3.5 million households in fuel poverty.

Consumer Focus suggests that many families will have been pushed into fuel poverty by recent job cuts.

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