Energy bills: Expert advises to 'close curtains' when heating is on
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British Gas and E.ON, two of the UK’s largest energy suppliers, have sent their customers an urgent message following the Government’s decision to scrap Ms Truss’s plans to freeze household energy bills at £2,500 for the next two years. Last week, millions of households were left worried after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced that the Energy Price Cap Guarantee, which was introduced by Ms Truss’s Government in September, would be under review after April. This price cap guarantee effectively froze the rates at which energy companies can charge households for their gas and electricity usage.
This has left households worried that in April, their energy bills are going to shoot up astronomical, particularly as experts warned that prior to Ms Truss’ intervention, the energy bills would have reached £6,000 next summer.
In a message, British Gas told customers that it understood the announcement might be worrying its customers but said it didn’t know yet how bills would be affected.
Customers were urged not to contact British Gas, which said it would update them “with more information as it happens”. E.on said it was “in contact with the Government” and also said customers shouldn’t contact them.
Scrapping the Energy Price Guarantee would result in millions more households paying more for their energy bills than expected from next year. It’s believed the Government will instead move to more targeted support for the most vulnerable.
While the promise currently caps typical bills to £2,500, people who use more will still pay over that amount. British Gas said: “You may have seen the Government has announced that the Energy Price Guarantee will be reviewed in April 2023, rather than running for two years.
“We know this will cause you a lot of uncertainty – until the Government provide more details, we don’t know what this means for your energy bills from April onwards. There’s no need for you to do anything, we’ll update you with more information as it happens.”
E.on said: “The new Chancellor has announced changes to the Energy Price Guarantee. We’re in contact with the government and will update our website when we have the full details, there is no need to contact us.”
In his statement, Mr Hunt said: “I want to confirm that the support we are providing until April next year will not change. But beyond that, the Prime Minister and I agreed that it would not be responsible to continue exposing public finance to unlimited volatility in national gas prices.”
Mr Hunt announced that the Government will launch a Treasury-led review into how it can support households and businesses with energy bills next year. The objective of this review will be to “design a new approach” that will cost the taxpayer “significantly less” than originally planned.
The Chancellor also said in his statement that any support for businesses will be targeted to those “most affected” adding that the new approach will aim to “better incentivise energy efficiency”.
In his speech, Mr Hunt said: “No Government can control markets but every Government can give certainty about the sustainability of public finances.”
The soaring energy bills could thrust millions of Britons into an even more difficult situation, new data has revealed that a staggering two million households have been in debt over their energy bills during the second quarter of this year.
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Data from the energy regulator Ofgem has revealed that at the end of June, 2,347,511 households were behind on their electricity bills and 1,858,585 on their gas bills. Within just three months, both figures have risen by about a quarter, and by nearly two-thirds since the end of 2020.
Peter Smith, director of policy and advocacy at National Energy Action, said: “With over two million households already in arrears with their energy bills, it is deeply worrying but not unsurprising.
“Bills have almost doubled in a year, and we haven’t yet seen the full impact of the latest price increase. We’re also now approaching winter and as temperatures drop many people are afraid to turn the heating on or even keep the lights on.
“It’s going to be a bleak and cold winter for the most vulnerable and unless the new prime minister acts urgently we would expect the number of households in arrears to increase yet again next year.”
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