Energy Bills: British Gas Ups Prices By 9.2%
British Gas has become the second major supplier of household energy to announce a rise in its prices - by an average 9.2%.
The company said its electricity and gas prices will rise by 10.4% and 8.4% respectively from November 23 - affecting 7.8 million households.
Regional variations mean some Scottish customers will see prices rise on average by as much as 11.2% while those in London will suffer a 10.6% increase and households in Yorkshire will have a 10.5% lift.
The move comes despite a pledge by British Gas earlier this year to use an annual earnings windfall from the cold weather last winter to keep a lid on tariffs.
Angry customers took to Twitter to complain ahead of an already planned Q&A session with customer services director Bert Pijls.
One user asked: "Hey @BritishGas how many vulnerable people do you think you will push into fuel poverty whilst continuing to make billions in profit?"
The average increase is higher in percentage terms than that confirmed by rival SSE last week which is raising its bills by 8.2% from November 15, although research from price comparison website uSwitch suggested it brought their average dual fuel tariffs together in terms of cost.
The Prime Minister David Cameron described the latest increase as "disappointing" and urged households to try to save money by switching suppliers.
E.ON, Scottish Power, EDF Energy and npower are the other so-called 'big six' providers yet to make announcements on their winter pricing.
British Gas said it was a hard decision for the company, which is owned by Centrica.
Its statement said: "We recognise that energy bills are a real worry for hard-pressed households, particularly at a time when the cost of living is rising faster than incomes.
"Today's announcement, which will add about £2 a week to the average dual fuel bill, reflects the increasing cost of: buying energy in global markets, delivering gas and electricity to the home, and the Government's social and environmental programmes, which are paid for through customers' bills."
It pledged that more than 500,000 of its elderly and most in-need customers would be protected by an automatic discount to offset the price increase throughout the winter - worth £60 per dual fuel household.
This was, British Gas said, in addition to the £135 that will be paid to many of these customers who qualify for the Government's Warm Home Discount scheme.
Ian Peters, managing director of British Gas Residential Energy, added: "I know these are difficult times for many customers and totally understand the frustration that so many household costs keep on rising when incomes aren't keeping pace.
"We haven't taken this decision lightly, but what's pushing up energy prices at the moment are costs that are not all directly under our control, such as the global price of energy, charges that we have to pay for using the national grid that delivers energy to the home, and the cost of the Government's social and environmental programmes.
"Energy efficiency is the best way to keep bills down, and I encourage anyone who has not benefitted from them to go online and check if they are eligible."
The cost of energy bills sparked a political frenzy last month when the Labour leader Ed Miliband pledged to freeze prices for 20 months if his party won power at the 2015 general election.
Shares in both SSE and British Gas-owner Centrica fell sharply in the wake of the announcement, wiping a combined £2.7bn off the value of the firms.
Caroline Flint, Labour's Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said: "These latest price rises show clearer than ever why Labour's price freeze is needed.
"People are sick and tired of being left out of pocket because of David Cameron's failure to stand up to the energy companies.
"Britain's energy market isn't working for ordinary families and businesses. Labour's energy freeze will save money for 27 million households and 2.4 million businesses and our plans to reset the market will deliver fairer prices in the future."
In an interview with Sky News, Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: "I think British Gas is going to lose a lot of customers over this.
"British Gas in their press release is trying to blame the Government for social and environmental costs but we've looked at their figures and it looks like they're being very inefficient in managing these Government programmes."
Ministers have been encouraging households to switch suppliers as the best way of keeping their bills as low as possible.