Price KO For Customers As Energy Companies Hike Bills

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British Gas and npower axe cheapest online and fixed deals as wholesale costs rocket

Times are hard generally and they are about to get harder as the cost of domestic power spirals relentlessly upwards.

Consumers have been hit by a series of fresh blows after energy companies increased prices and pulled a string of cheap deals.

The independent price comparison service Energyhelpline.com said the latest developments were evidence of the mounting market pressure on the Big Six suppliers to raise their prices.

Today (May 9) npower withdrew its Go Fix 5 cheapest fixed tariff for new customers replacing it with Go Fix 6 which is 4.2% more expensive for gas and 8.5% more expensive for electricity.

This followed a move by British Gas on Friday (May 6) which ended the cheapest online deal for new customers – the ‘WebSaver 11’ at £895 a year – and replaced it with ‘Websaver 11+ One Off Repairs’ which is £36 a year more expensive at £931 but also includes emergency repair cover.

In addition, smaller providers First Utility, Ovo, Green Energy have all raised standard tariffs in the past 10 days. This will make it not only more difficult for householders to keep within a budget for their energy supplies but in these straightened economic times it will be a growing element of a company’s operating costs as they have to accommodate increases in business electricity prices.

Energyhelpline.com warned in April of price rises of up to 15% by the autumn but said that smaller rises could actually kick in before then because of pressure on wholesale prices and from investors for higher profits. Already 3 smaller suppliers have now raised standard prices.

Mark Todd, director of Energyhelpline.com, said: “The cheaper deals are being pulled so quickly that it is difficult to keep up. We are now seeing very real evidence of price rises across the domestic energy market.

“Over the past month, there has been a bonfire of some of the best deals on the market. The outlook is very bleak and consumers need to act quickly if they want to snap up the cheapest deals or opt for a fixed rate tariff which will protect them from further price rises.

“Times are hard generally and they are about to get harder as the cost of domestic power spirals relentlessly upwards.”

Ovo announced today (May 9) it was raising its standard variable rate from June 9 with Green Energy UK increasing the price of its Pale Green tariff by 3.9% and Deep Green by 1.4%. First Utility has introduced a 7.3% rise for gas and 11% on electricity on Smart as Standard v1 which came into effect over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend.

The latest round of bad news for customers came as British Gas owner Centrica on Monday warned Britons to brace themselves for higher energy bills this winter.

The company said wholesale gas and electric prices have risen by a quarter compared with last year after unrest in the Middle East and the Japan nuclear catastrophe.

Todd said: “Centrica is clearly firing a shot across the bows of consumers that residential energy bills are very likely to rise. British Gas is the biggest player in the UK market and if it is feeling the pressure to increase prices then you can be certain that the other members of the Big Six are in the same boat.

“I am afraid that all the evidence at our disposal indicates that millions of customers are going to have to stump up more for their power bills as the year progresses.

“If people are on a standard tariff they should get off it now and switch to a low-cost fix or internet tariff.

“There are still some good value long fixed rate tariffs left such as EDF’s Fixed S@ver v2 which has a typical saving of £141 a year and offers a fixed price until October 2012.”

  • Customers can find out about the best deals by logging onto energyhelpline.com or calling 0800 074 0745.

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