British Gas to hike electricity prices by 12.5% from September

Posted August 02, 2017

Worked at BP for 29 years before stepping down from the board in 2014 to become CEO of British Gas owner Centrica.

With utility price rises across the board now looking more likely, we crucially need to review the key priorities across the United Kingdom before the coming winter - when 4 million households in the United Kingdom will face the brunt of fuel poverty.

Mark Hodges, the chief executive of Centrica's consumer business, said the company has made a number of proposals to the government and to regulator Ofgem, including phasing out the standard variable tariff and "levelling the playing field" so all suppliers pay a share of energy policy obligations.

"While it must be acknowledged that most of the fall in customer numbers comes from collective switches, and Centrica is making progress in other areas including improving customer service, it is clear the group still has some work left to do".

Research suggests that British Gas should be cutting bills, not putting them up, as the wholesale cost of energy has been falling.

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Details of the change in tariff came as Centrica revealed British Gas lost 377,000 United Kingdom customer accounts in the first half of 2017.

The company says it last raised prices in 2013, and that overall transmission costs have risen since then.

He said: "We haven't taken this decision lightly".

Stephen Murray, energy expert, MoneySuperMarket added: "This announcement from British Gas must be one of the worst kept secrets in the history of the energy industry".

But Labour's shadow energy minister Alan Whitehead said the "whopping price increase" was unjustified - and accused the Conservatives of breaking a manifesto pledge to impose a cap.

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Martin Lewis, the founder of MoneySavingExpert, warned that the significant price hike might usher in a new round of utility price rises across the board, which will spell disaster for those already struggling to pay the bills.

News of the price hike came as Centrica reported British Gas adjusted operating profits tumbled 23% year-on-year in the first six months of 2017 to £489m.

"On the face of it, it does not appear to be justifiable at all from where the market is going", he said.

In the run up to the June General Election, the Conservatives promised and energy price cap, in a supposed departure from traditional Tory liberal economics which rejects state interference in the market.

"The summer months are a time when many people take their eye off their energy bills and there is a danger that millions of British Gas customers will miss this or shrug their shoulders in passive acceptance".

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Claire Osborne at USwitch said: "At a time when living costs are rising faster than wages, this hike could push many families into the red". Instead the plan is to safeguard customers on the poorest value tariffs.