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Energy bills will rise for about 15 million UK households from April after the regulator Ofgem lifted the price cap on tariffs back to pre-pandemic levels.
Ofgem said that for six months from April the price cap will increase by £96 to £1,138 for 11 million default tariff customers, and by £87 to £1,156 for 4 million pre-payment meter customers.
“Energy bill increases are never welcome, especially as many households are struggling with the impact of the pandemic,” said Jonathan Brearley, the chief executive of Ofgem. “We have carefully scrutinised these changes to ensure that customers only pay a fair price for their energy.”
It is the first rise in the energy price cap in two years, more than wiping out the £84-a-year cut Ofgem announced in October 2020.
Ofgem said that after a sharp fall in wholesale energy prices at the start of the first coronavirus lockdown last March, demand for energy has recovered, pushing prices to “more normal levels”.
The regulator said that despite the rise, the price cap, which is designed to protect consumers who do not switch energy suppliers for better tariffs, still continues to save consumers up to £100 a year. It estimates consumers could save £150 if they look to shift energy tariffs.
Ofgem made its decision to allow suppliers to claim £23 back from the new default tariff price cap level to cover expected higher levels of customers being unable to pay their bills because of financial difficulties arising from the pandemic. The regulator said the move would ensure that companies can continue to supply energy and protect their customers, especially those in vulnerable circumstances.
“As the UK still faces challenges around Covid-19, during this exceptional time I expect suppliers to set their prices competitively, treat all customers fairly and ensure that any household in financial distress is given access to the support they need,” Brearley said.
“The government and Ofgem have been working with the energy industry and consumer groups to support customers through this difficult time and I urge anyone worried about paying their energy bills to contact their supplier and access the help available.”
Ofgem said that suppliers are required to provide emergency credit to customers struggling to top up their pre-payment meters, put those who are behind on their bills on affordable repayment plans and should not disconnect their customers.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Energy bills to rise for about 15m UK households | Energy bills