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Households could face coronavirus charge on their energy bills

OFGEM was lambasted today after announcing plans for a hike in energy bills to offset losses due to the coronavirus.

The energy regulator has proposed a £21 increase to the maximum households can be charged on their bills to remove pressure on energy companies that are facing high levels of unpaid bills as households struggle to keep up during the pandemic.

Ofgem said that it is considering the hike to the default price cap when it next comes up for review, which takes place every six months. 

If approved, the cap will come into force in the beginning of April.

This would come on top of any other changes made to the amount energy companies can charge customers on their default rates.

Consultation on the proposals will run until December 21 and Ofgem will share its decision in February.

We Own It director Cat Hobbs said: “The idea that at a time when millions of people are struggling to pay their bills, the solution would be to charge people even more is farcical. 

“For far too long, private energy companies have been ripping us all off, plunging people into fuel poverty while raking in juicy profits. It has to stop.  

“But we can't expect the private companies or a toothless regulator to stop extracting as much money as possible out of people through energy bills.”

Ms Hobbs said that the only way to deliver a fair system is to kick out the profiteers and bring energy networks into public ownership, which could save £3.7 billion every single year.

Electricity and gas supplier Octopus Energy’s chief executive Greg Jackson said: “Legacy suppliers charge long-standing customers hundreds of pounds more than new customers. 

“If they cared about customers, they could handle Covid debt by reducing this disparity, rather than exacerbating it by lobbying for a hike in the price cap.”

Mr Jackson called for Ofgem to resist all attempts to undermine its “single biggest success of the last decade,” the price cap, which he said was “saving billions for customers and finally forcing dinosaur companies to become more efficient.”

Energy UK chief executive Emma Pinchbeck said that it was the regulator’s job to “weigh up how to support energy retailers through their own commercial difficulties in the pandemic, so that they can continue to supply and support all customers.”

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