Joined: 03 Jun 2005
|Posted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 9:15 am Post subject: RENATIONALISE ELECTRIC, WATER AND GAS NOW
|Flaming cheek! British Gas whacks £200 on your energy bill - and that's on top of crippling green taxes
Average annual dual-fuel bill to hit record £1,288
Energy giant said prices upped in response to a 30% hike in wholesale prices since last winter
They are second of the 'big six' firms to put up prices after ScottishPower announced a 19% gas hike
By Sean Poulter
Last updated at 11:02 PM on 8th July 2011
British Gas triggered fury last night with inflation-busting increases in bills that will add almost £200 a year to the cost of heat and light.
The news will send a shiver through the 13million families the firm serves – roughly half the country – against a background of the biggest squeeze on living standards in generations.
Gas is going up 18 per cent and electricity by 16 per cent next month, taking the average annual dual-fuel bill to a record £1,288.
The surge in bills is being accelerated by a host of controversial ‘green’ taxes designed to drive a shift to wind, wave, solar and nuclear power.
Energy: British Gas has announced an 18 per cent price hike for gas and 16 per cent price increase for electricity
These add around £100 a year to energy bills, according to the industry regulator Ofgem, though experts suggest the figure could be as much as £150.
High bills have thrown millions of families and pensioners into ‘fuel poverty’, which means that they face a nightmare choice each winter between heating and eating.
The latest price hikes, if all suppliers follow suit, are predicted to push up the number in this situation by some 2.8million to almost 12million.
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The energy companies claim the price rises are necessary to reflect increases in the cost of gas and electricity on international wholesale markets.
However, this is rejected by the official customer body Consumer Focus. It points out that the current wholesale gas price is 29 per cent less than in the summer of 2008.
Costly business: How the price hikes have affected household bills
By contrast, the price British Gas is charging its customers is up by 44 per cent.
On electricity, the wholesale price is down by 37 per cent over the past three years, but the British Gas bill is up by 21 per cent.
DOORSTEP SALES AXED
Up to 900 jobs will be axed at Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) after the company announced today it was immediately suspending all its doorsteps sales.
The decision to abandon old-fashioned door-to-door selling follows a breakdown in confidence in the practice among consumers, the energy giant said.
It also comes two months after the company was found guilty of using doorstep salesmen to mislead potential customers in a case brought against it by Surrey County Council.
Commission-based doorstep selling has ceased to be an effective way to gain customers for the long term, the firm said, adding that it expected to permanently close its doorstep sales operations.
Since household gas and electricity supply markets opened up to competition in the 1990s, doorstep, telephone, online, venue and partnership sales have been used by leading energy companies to encourage customers to change their supplier of electricity and gas.
In 2010-11, about 45% of SSE's total customer gains in Britain came from doorstep sales, the company said.
The rest came from telephone, venue, online, direct mail and partnership sales, which will all continue.
The evidence will increase suspicions that British Gas, its parent company Centrica and the other major energy suppliers are profiteering.
Profits at British Gas hit an all-time high of £742million last year, while those for Centrica soared by almost a third to £2.4billion, generating big bonuses for bosses.
The chief executive of Consumer Focus, Mike O’Connor, said: ‘This price rise will send a shock wave across the country.
‘The impact on customers will be severe, piling more pressure on stretched household budgets.
‘Consumers simply don’t trust that energy companies have customers’ interests at heart and rightly question whether prices are fair.’
British Gas claimed that the Consumer Focus analysis of changes in wholesale and retail prices was ‘highly misleading’. It said the figures did not reflect increases in the costs of doing business.
Earlier this year, Ofgem accused energy firms of being greedy and lazy. It complained that customers are bamboozled by more than 300 complex tariffs.
A number of investigations are under way over the mis-selling of energy deals, particularly through doorstep salesmen.
There are also suspicions the ‘big six’ firms – British Gas, Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE), nPower, E.on, Scottish Power and EDF – are failing to compete on price and service.
Scottish Power announced in June that it was hiking its cost of gas by 19 per cent this August.
Ofgem is sending in a team of independent accountants to look at the books of the major suppliers to discover the truth about prices and profits.
The Coalition has failed to deliver on promises to order a Competition Commission investigation into prices.
Yesterday, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, argued that the best way to avoid bill shocks is to insulate homes and switch away from fossil fuel to nuclear and green power.
‘The UK electricity market has to change, so that we escape the cycle of fossil fuel addiction. Alternatives like renewables and nuclear power must be allowed to become the dominant component of our energy mix,’ he said.
However Labour MP John Robertson, who sits on the energy and climate change select committee, described Mr Huhne’s efforts as ‘weak’.
He said: ‘There are new burglars in this country and they are the energy companies. These price hikes are deeply irresponsible and a disgrace. It should be a crime as it will be a cold, bare and hard Christmas this year for many.’
He called on ministers to reverse a £100 cut in the winter fuel allowance to pensioners due to be implemented later this year.
British Gas managing director Phil Bentley said the firm had no choice but to pass on the increase in wholesale prices since last winter.
‘We know there is never a good time to raise prices but we are buying in a global energy market and have to pay the market rate,’ he said. He suggested other firms will soon put up their prices, saying: ‘Rising wholesale costs is an issue facing all energy suppliers.’
The firm’s managing director of services and commercial, Chris Jansen, risked being swamped with complaints after advising customers worried about their bills to email him directly on ‘email@example.com’.
Only one solution RE-NATIONALISE!