After promise of £50 cut, energy bills rise again

Consumer groups said customers would feel 'aggravated and bewildered' by the firm's decision to increase its bills. Picture: PA
Consumer groups said customers would feel 'aggravated and bewildered' by the firm's decision to increase its bills. Picture: PA
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THE last of the Big Six energy companies to hike its prices did so yesterday – just days after the government announced a cut in the cost of green levies that will save the suppliers money.

E.on said its customers’ bills would rise by 3.7 per cent – adding £48 to the average bill but taking into account the average £50 cut per household generated by the government’s proposals.

Consumer groups said customers would feel “aggravated and bewildered” by the firm’s decision to increase its bills.

The move comes weeks after ScottishPower, Scottish Gas, SSE and Npower announced their own rises and days after a flurry of reports that bills would be reduced following news of the government’s reduction last week.

EDF Energy announced a rise in November, at half that of its rivals, saying it would absorb the cost of the green levies. It added last week that it did not “anticipate” bills would rise further next year.

Jeremy Cryer, of price comparison website, said: “There’s been a lot of talk this week of energy bills coming down thanks to the deal struck between the government and energy providers, but the fact remains that people’s bills are still going up, like they have been for several years, only not by as much.”

Clare Francis, of MoneySupermarket said: “All the Big Six energy companies have now announced price rises for hard-pressed bill payers and this year’s price hike season has attracted more attention than ever but, for all the noise and scrutiny, energy customers will still be feeling aggrieved and bewildered.

“It is especially confusing because some price increases have been ‘reduced’. So bill payers know the increases have left them worse off, but in many cases they will have little knowledge of just how hard they’ll be hit.”

E.on UK chief executive Tony Cocker said the government’s announcement had reduced the level of the rise he claimed was necessary to cover extra costs.

The increase will see the average variable dual-fuel bill go up by 3.7 per cent, or £48, electricity-only prices go up by 3.7 per cent, or £20, and gas-only by 4.6 per cent, or £37. The changes will take effect from 18 January.

Scottish Gas owner British Gas has confirmed it will be cutting its prices on 1 January, which will result in £48 a year coming off its standard dual-fuel tariff for cash and cheque customers.

SSE, Npower and ScottishPower are yet to confirm details of when and how they cut customers’ bills.

Martin Lewis, of, said: “The fact E.on still has room to put prices up shows the government’s £50 reduction isn’t a cut – just a diminution of the price rise.”

Elizabeth Gore, deputy director of fuel poverty charity Energy Action Scotland, said: “Just one day after learning from the government that they would get a £50 cut in their energy bills, households are given the news that yet another energy company is increasing its prices. Customers are no doubt thinking that it is a case of ‘giving with the right and taking with the left’.”