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Campaigners hit out at energy bill rise by almost £100 as ‘absolutely disgraceful’

ENERGY bills rising by almost £100 for millions of households in the middle of a pandemic is “absolutely disgraceful,” campaigners said ahead of a price-cap increase today.

Regulator Ofgem is to raise the energy price cap — the maximum amount that suppliers can charge customers on default or “standard variable” tariffs — which will see suppliers passing on the rising costs of gas and electricity to customers. 

Based on average use, it means that at least 11 million homes will see annual dual-fuel bills rise by £96 to £1,138. A further four million households with prepayment meters could see their bills jump by £87 to £1,156.

Ofgem’s decision followed an extra £23 rise that energy suppliers have been allowed to charge customers for bad debt.

During the Covid-19 crisis, companies have struggled to get some households to pay bills, so Ofgem has allowed firms to spread that cost across the country.

This comes after unemployment hit 1.7million in January, with 4.7million people still on furlough.

The biggest supplier, British Gas, upped its prices to the new maximum rate just days after the increase was announced.

Big Six rivals Eon and Npower followed, with SSE and EDF hiking prices to just £1 below it.

We Own It campaigns officer Pascale Robinson said: “It’s absolutely disgraceful that people are being forced to pay more for their utility bills in the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis. 

“Millions are already struggling to pay their bills, and this will only push more people into economic hardship and fuel poverty. 

“For too long, private companies running these services have been ripping us off, charging us through the nose while providing a shoddy service.

“Whether it’s water companies polluting our rivers or energy companies failing to invest in renewables — all while paying out millions to shareholders — privatisation has demonstrably failed.”

Ms Robinson said that it is time to bring all utilities into public ownership “so they can work for all of us, not just the shareholders of private companies.”

Citizens Advice acting chief executive Alistair Cromwell urged consumers to shop around for the best deal and not to “put up with it if it’s not good enough.” 

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