Manx Gas customers claim payments system is 'immoral'

image captionA crowd of people gathered for the protest on Tuesday afternoon

Dozens of people have staged a protest outside Tynwald over the price of gas bills on the Isle of Man.

They claim the current banded system used by the island's only provider, Manx Gas, is "flawed and immoral".

A spokesman for the company said it aims to help customers spread their energy costs over the year.

But campaigners say they want to see the return of "one affordable flat-rate" for domestic customers, with about 50 people attending the protest.

Meanwhile, almost 1,000 customers have joined a Facebook campaign, with many claiming their payments have increased.

The banded pricing system was introduced in January 2016 with the lowest band being charged 16p a day and the highest £2.13 a day.

Manx Gas managing director Tony Nicholls said over the course of a typical year, the "majority of customers will have seen little or no change".

However, Barry Murphy, from the Manx Gas Standing Charges Facebook group, said the pricing system is causing a "massive problem".

He said: "My standing charge is about £500 a year before I've even used any gas. That is simply not acceptable."

In 2015 Manx Gas was forced to cut bills by 3.5% following a review by the Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading.

Its pricing system places each customer into a "consumption band" ranging from A, for those who used up to 5,000 kWh of gas a year, through to I, for those who use more than 50,000 kWh.

Office of Fair Trading chairman Martyn Perkins said: "Whilst I have no doubt that there are those finding it difficult to pay gas bills, the OFT regulates Manx Gas in the interests of the consumer."

image captionBarry Murphy is among the campaigners

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