One of the nation’s biggest energy providers is to raise its gas and electricity bills today in a move that will see average annual bills for dual fuel customers increase by £80.
As first reported back in October, a 6% increase in British Gas energy prices comes in to force from today (16 November), and is the energy giant’s first price hike for 15 months after raising gas and electricity prices by 18% and 16% respectively back in August 2011.
Along with rival SSE – who increased their energy prices by 9% yesterday – British Gas was the first of the so-called ‘Big Six’ energy utility firms to announce plans to charge customers more money for providing their energy. Scottish Power, npower and EDF soon followed suit. While E.ON bucked the trend and so far hasn’t followed in the footsteps of its peers, if rumours come to fruition the company is preparing to announce an 11% price hike next month, which will be enforced sometime in January.
While around 1 million British Gas customers on fixed price tariffs will be exempt from the increase, that still leaves around 8.5 million who will be hit by the latest escalation.
Npower customers are next in line for a hike in their gas and electricity costs, with their increase coming in to effect from 26 November. Scottish Power and EDF bills will rise in December.
With energy consumers already struggling to meet the financial demands of providing heat and power for their homes, any increase is going to be unwelcome. But thanks to the billions of pounds of pre-tax profits achieved by the ‘Big Six’ this year it makes energy price rises even more of a bitter pill to swallow. Between April and September this year SSE made a profit of £397.5 million, while experts have predicated that British Gas will achieve a profit of £575 million this year.
Speaking to Sky News Mike Jeram, Head of Business and Environment at Unison said “The billion pound profits of energy companies, announced at the same time as massive price hikes for their customers, are an insult to the many families who are struggling to get by as winter takes hold.”