SSE HAS come under fire for a “meagre” cut to its gas bills which will not come into effect until well into the warmer spring weather – at a time when customers will be using less energy.
The Perth-based firm became the latest member of the Big Six to announce a reduction to its prices, cutting bills by an average of 4.1 per cent – or £28 a year.
Only EDF is yet to announce a cut, with ScottishPower, British Gas, E.ON and nPower having said they will reduce their bills by between 3.5 per cent and 5.1 per cent.
SSE said it was also extending its price freeze on gas and electricity until at least July 2016.
Consumer groups have lambasted the energy giants for failing to pass on reductions in wholesale gas prices, which have fallen by as much as 20 per cent over the past year. Stephen Murray, energy expert at MoneySuperMarket said: “Beleaguered bill payers could have put money on the fact that ‘price cut five’ would be another lacklustre one.
“SSE has disappointed by not only passing a meagre 4.1 per cent cut in the price of gas, or £28, but it is failing to pass on this benefit to customers for another three months, with prices falling on 30 April 2015.”
Jeremy Cryer, energy spokesman at Gocompare.com, said: “So far, all the cuts from the ‘big six’ have disappointed customers who feel they should be getting more back from the near 20 per cent drop in wholesale gas prices at the end of last year.
“The length of time it has taken for some suppliers to pass these savings on to customers is also frustrating. Most cuts only come into effect after the winter months, where energy usage is at its highest. SSE’s announcement that this drop will only come into effect at the end of April seems particularly cold- hearted.”
In a statement issued to the stock exchange yesterday morning, Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive of SSE, said the company was experiencing a “challenging business environment”, but added that he wanted to pass on the savings to customers.
The supplier hiked dual fuel prices by 8.2 per cent in November 2013 before cutting them in March last year by 3.5 per cent in response to changes and then pledging a freeze which it initially said would last until January.
He said: “Customers are at the heart of SSE’s business, and our work to secure their energy supplies in wholesale markets last spring enabled us to guarantee that prices would not increase until at least January 2016, showing we are committed to treating all of our customers fairly and to giving them stable prices over the long-term.
“We’re being true to that commitment with a 4.1 per cent reduction in the typical gas bill and an extended guarantee meaning gas and electricity prices won’t go up before July 2016 at the earliest.
SSE’s cut will come into force even later than the other suppliers. E.ON was the only utility firm to start the price reduction immediately, while the others plan to cut from February.
Tom Greatrex, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Energy Minister and MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, said: “This latest price cut shows Ed Miliband was right to challenge the energy companies to pass on the falls in wholesale costs to consumers in Scotland. It also shows you can freeze prices to stop them rising and still cut them when wholesale costs fall. But with wholesale gas prices down by over 20 per cent, a price cut of just 4. 1 per cent, delayed for over three months, is hardly a good deal.”
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