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Energy aid could double

A more efficient system would increase savings for families in the face of rising gas and electricity prices

A NEW system of aid towards the energy bills of poorer households, under investigation by the government, would double the savings for some families.

New Energy Minister Philippe Martin said that, before winter, the government would revise the present scheme of social tariffs, with the aim of allowing eight million people to benefit speedily and efficiently from the help available – while keeping an eye on the costs and targeting the aid to those in need.

The current system was described as an “obstacle course”, over-complex with too many different parameters, by the energy watchdog Ademe.

It produced a report into the system after the former Energy Minister Delphine Batho also criticised it as overly-complex and producing a benefit that was worth little. She had said that the average aid of €8 a month was “insufficient” compared to real costs of electricity and gas.

Electricity prices are set to rise 5% later this year and another 5% next and currently four million households receive some sort of energy aid.

Ademe has recommended simplifying the method of calculation, doubling social tariffs and, as gas prices had risen 80% since 2005, adding a one-off cheque payment each year to the beneficiaries through a "chèque énergie" that would be awarded no matter what energy source was used.

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