Energy dividends 'up'

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The government has come under huge pressure from unions and its own backbenchers to help poorer families deal with the rising cost of energy, it has been reported.

New research has found the "big six" energy firms increased their dividends to shareholders by 19 per cent in 2007, according to the BBC.

The suppliers - Centrica, EDF, Scottish and Southern Energy, RWE Npower, E.ON and Scottish Power - paid £1.64 billion in dividends, which is up by £257 million on the previous year.

Scottish Power was the only firm to buck the trend and reduce their dividend, the report added.

It details that chancellor Alistair Darling is resisting calls to help poorer households deal with the rising cost of energy via a one-off tax on the profits of utility companies, saying it would make the market less competitive.

"The Local Government Association [LGA] has agreed, saying that a push by energy companies to finance a £500m national home insulation programme over the next five years would be more effective," the report concludes.

Established in 1997, the LGA was created to be the voice of local government in the national arena.

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