Ahead of Ofgem’s price cap announcement tomorrow, Energy UK is pressing the Government to take urgent action to protect customers from a sharp increase in bills caused by record wholesale gas prices.
Sector analysts are projecting an increase from the current price cap level – £1277 a year for a typical household – to around £1,900 (a 50% rise) when the new cap comes into force at the start of April.
Customer research carried out by Public First on behalf of Energy UK has found that a quarter of respondents say they would not be able to afford the anticipated £50 monthly increase in their energy bills. This increases to 45%, almost half, of those with annual incomes under £20,000. While 33% of respondents said they could afford the hike in energy bills were it not for other cost of living increases, 17% say they cannot afford the extra energy costs alone.
The energy industry has been raising its concerns with the Government for several months and discussing ideas for reducing the impact on customers – such as by temporarily taking VAT off bills or moving policy costs to general taxation; spreading the costs from high wholesale prices and supplier failures over longer periods of time; and providing direct financial support for customers through schemes like the Warm Home Discount.
The cost of buying gas on the wholesale market has rocketed in recent months – rising by over 500% in under a year. With much of this rise occurring since the current price cap was set, suppliers are losing up to £400-£600 per household because they cannot charge what it currently costs to provide energy to their customers. As a result, 27 suppliers have exited the market since August, in addition to Bulb entering special administration.
Energy UK’s chief executive, Emma Pinchbeck said:
“As our research shows, the expected price cap rise is going to be extremely worrying news for millions of customers. Several ideas to reduce bills have been under discussion but it’s now a matter of urgency that customers get reassurance from the Government that they won’t be left to face this rise alone.
“Suppliers have been providing hundreds of millions in pounds in financial assistance since the start of the pandemic and will continue to do all they can to help customers struggling with their bills.
“When international gas prices are this high, there is a need for Government to act, as other Governments already have, to make a real difference to bills and to protect the wider economy”.
- Energy UK is the trade association for the energy industry with over 100 members spanning every aspect of the energy sector – from established FTSE 100 companies right through to new, growing suppliers and generators, which now make up over half of our membership. We represent the diverse nature of the UK’s energy industry with our members delivering over 80% of both the UK’s power generation and energy supply for the 28 million UK homes as well as businesses. The energy industry invests £13bn annually, delivers £31bn in gross value added on top of the £95bn in economic activity through its supply chain and interaction with other sectors, and supports 738,000 jobs in every corner of the country.
- Public First carried out polling of 2011 UK adults between January 13th and 20th. The results of this polling are available on Public First’s website. Public First is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.