Hundreds of thousands of households face new year gas and electricity bill rise of around £183
- Forty fixed-term tariffs end on December 31, leaving customers facing increases
- Suppliers with tariffs ending include British Gas, Npower, EDF, and Sainsbury’s
- Biggest cost increase is ScottishPower, whose customers will pay £331 more
Hundreds of thousands of households face a nasty new year surprise – higher gas and electricity bills of around £183.
Forty fixed-term tariffs end on December 31, leaving customers facing price increases on January 1, according to analysis by industry experts.
Victoria Arrington of the comparison website Energyhelpline, which carried out the research, said: ‘These hikes will come as a further blow to consumers’ finances, especially after the excesses of Christmas.’
Fixed-rate tariffs lock prices in for a set period, giving customers a guarantee that their bills will not rise.
Forty fixed-term tariffs end on December 31, leaving customers facing price increases on at the start of 2019 (file picture)
When the deals end, customers are typically moved on to a more expensive standard variable tariff unless they sign up to another fixed term.
Twelve suppliers have tariffs ending on the last day of the year, including four of the Big Six firms – British Gas, ScottishPower, Npower and EDF – and eight smaller providers – Engie, Sainsbury’s, Flow Energy, Better Energy, PFP Energy, Genergy, First Utility and Affect Energy.
Across all 12, the average price will rise by 19 per cent – but the increase will be considerably more for customers of the four bigger firms, whose bills will increase by an average of 27.5 per cent.
Miss Arrington added: ‘Customers don’t necessarily need to tighten their belts elsewhere to make their energy affordable – after all, energy is the easiest big bill to switch.
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‘You don’t have to wait for your tariff to end to start looking for a good deal. In most cases you will have 49 days before the tariff end date to switch to a new supplier, with no exit fees. This gives customers plenty of opportunity to take the few minutes required to switch online.’
The biggest tariff increase in percentage terms comes from Better Energy, at 36.6 per cent, while Affect Energy has the smallest, at 2.4 per cent.
In cost terms, the biggest increase will come from ScottishPower, whose customers will pay £331 more a year. At the other end of the scale, Better Energy customers will be charged an extra £50.
Energyhelpline said customers on fixed contracts that are ending may have been reminded that they can switch to another tariff instead of the likelihood of being moved automatically to the standard variable tariff, or SVT.
ScottishPower customers will pay £331 more a year while Better Energy customers will be charged an extra £50
On New Year’s Day, a price cap will come into force for standard variable tariffs of £1,137 a year for ‘typical use’.
The energy regulator Ofgem claims this will save 11million customers around £76 a year on electricity and gas bills. But the cap will hit the earnings of major energy firms. Big Six provider SSE ditched plans this week to merge its retail operations with Npower, partly because the cap would make it hard for the combined operation to be competitive.
Npower said: ‘The trend in wholesale and other energy costs continues to be significantly upwards and this is being reflected in the level of new fixed tariffs as current deals come to an end.
‘Although Ofgem has now set the level of the SVT price cap, it’s still worth customers shopping around to make sure they’re on the best deal.’
ScottishPower said: ‘This is a two-year fixed tariff that was available to customers in December 2016. Since then there have been increases in the wholesale market.’
British Gas declined to comment last night, and EDF did not respond to requests for comment.
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