More firms poised to raise fuel prices

 
Kasmira Jefford
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MORE than 12m customers, including households and small businesses, will next month see their gas and electricity bills increase by up to £200 a year.

While half of the UK’s “Big Six” utility companies have now raised their fuel prices, the remaining three – Npower, EDF and E.ON – are expected to follow suit in the next fortnight following steep rises in wholesale costs and a higher global demand for oil and gas.

Last week, SSE became the third energy supplier to increase its prices, with electricity tariffs increasing by 11 per cent and gas by 18 per cent. The move will mean that customers on the duel fuel option will see their average annual bill rise £171 to £1,265.

Centrica and Scottish Power also announced similar price hikes from August.

Npower, a subsidiary of German utility RWE and the UK’s fourth largest energy company said that no decision on tariffs had been taken yet but said it was facing similar pressures from the rise in whole gas and electricity prices.

The company made losses on its retail business last year, according to the regulator Ofgem.

Consumer Focus, the consumer watchdog, said there was a “pack mentality” amongst the energy suppliers towards price hikes and expected others to follow in the next two or three months at most.

Energy secretary Chris Huhne said last week his plans for power market reform will deliver “the best deal” for reducing dependence on expensive fossil fuels. The plan, however, will cost £200bn by 2020, or £8,000 for every household.