Nick Herbert welcomes OFT review of heating oil prices

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has welcomed the announcement of an Office of Fair Trading review of heating oil pricing.

   

Mr Herbert raised the concerns of his constituents with the Energy Minister and the Office of Fair Trading earlier this year.

Over the winter Mr Herbert received a number of letters from local people concerned about the 70 per cent increase in the price of heating oil. 

Rural areas such as West Sussex that are not on the gas-grid are reliant on oil for heating during the winter months. 

An official report last year found that because of expenses like travel and heating the cost of living in rural areas is a fifth higher, or £2,600 a year more, than in urban areas.  Some can afford this premium, but lower-paid rural people struggle.

In a reply to Mr Herbert, the Energy Minister, Charles Hendry MP wrote that he was "very concerned by the nature and volume of the concerns which have been expressed ....  I look forward to seeing the OFT's conclusions in advance of next winter so the lessons from this winter can be learned and any necessary changes made."

In a separate reply to Mr Herbert, John Fingleton, Chief Executive of the Office of Fair Trading set out the scope of their review. It will cover:

  • how well competition provides choice for consumers at a local and regional level;
  • whether the terms and conditions of supply provide consumers with clear information, competitive prices and fair terms and conditions;
  • the experience of customers.     

Nick Herbert commented: "I am very pleased that this review will now take place.  The price of heating oil over the winter seemed to bear no relation to the price of crude oil.  Rural areas that rely on this source of heating have been severely and disproportionately hit by the price hike.

 "I look forward to the outcome and will continue to keep my constituents updated on its progress."

 

Ends

Notes for Editors   

1.    A letter from the Energy Minister, Charles Hendry MP can be read here.

2.    Here is a letter from OFT Chief Executive, John Fingleton.   

3.    More information about the Office of Fair Trading can be found at http://www.oft.gov.uk/   

4.    More information about the Department for Energy and Climate Change can be found at www.decc.gov.uk

   

Joe Coombes