Your view: what do you think about British Gas’ price rise?

by , Conversation Editor Energy & Home 18 October 2013
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British Gas yesterday announced a 9.2% price rise on the average household energy bill. The reaction was of resounding disdain. Here’s a round up of the reception, with a comment from British Gas itself.

Pound coins on energy prices

In a massive blow to millions, British Gas’ price rise will add an average £123 to dual-fuel customers’ annual bills. It follows SSE’s 8.2% price rise announcement, and we expect others to follow suit.

British Gas bravely plowed ahead with a Twitter Q&A, which was met with wide heckling. Anthony and Michelle reacted to the price hike:

British Gas customers ‘dreading winter’

When we took the news to our Facebook page, Sue commented:

‘Completely immoral. “Great” Britain is dead, as we older people will be before the winter is out. Will they pay for our funerals?’

Karen is doing all she can to save money on energy:

‘I’ve turned most radiators off in my home, only keep the living room and bathroom one on, and I’ve started buying microwave meals so I don’t have to use my cooker. But we shouldn’t have to live like this in this day and age.’

Charlotte and her husband aren’t looking forward to winter:

‘It’s quite frightening not being able to keep warm. We are both home all day, my husband has heart problems. Dreading winter.’

Switching energy suppliers

Miguel didn’t mince his words:

‘”Use less” to lower future bills say British Gas. “USELESS” and out of touch British Gas management, I say.’

Carl suggests everyone should switch energy deals:

‘I have been with British Gas since privatisation, but I can’t justify a price rise after the parent company posted huge profits last year. It is scandalous. I think we should hit them where it hurts and switch.’

Harry speaks up for our simple energy prices campaign, which has over 28,000 supporters:

‘We expect price rises, but 9.2% is profiteering at the expense of the elderly and low paid. Baffling tariffs mean most of Joe Public have no idea what their bills will reach. Bad British Gas! Price per kWh now please!’

British Gas defends its price rise

In the interests of balance, here’s Pete speaking up for British Gas:

‘How can a company that makes 5 pence in the pound be ripping people off?! Any explanation is welcome! I don’t see any of you protesting at the massive profits made by supermarkets… Perhaps you should educate yourselves.’

British Gas got in touch with us to defend its price rise and Twitter Q&A:

‘We didn’t make this decision lightly. We know people are worried about rising energy prices and they want to talk about this – including on Twitter – and it’s important we’re there for them to talk to. That’s why we offered a Q&A session with our customer services director. It was the right thing to do because we are committed to being open and transparent with our customers at all times. We also want to make clear rising prices don’t have to mean rising bills and there is help available.’

‘I can’t afford to live and can’t afford to die’

Ian’s situation brings the whole debate about rising energy prices home:

‘I am disabled and a pensioner living on state pension and pension credits. I now spend a lot of time in the library to save putting the heating on in my house. I can’t afford to live and can’t afford to die.’

We don’t think current plans to reform the energy market go far enough. We want the government to intervene to make sure everything possible is done to keep prices in check. Help us take action on energy by signing our energy prices campaign. And if you’re on Twitter, show British Gas what you think about its latest price rise:

16 comments

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william

I wonder if British Gas would ever answer a question like this (especially as in their words ‘committed to being open and transparent with our customers’) …

How much does it cost your parent company to generate the electricity that they sell to you, how much do you pay for it, and how much do you then charge the end user?

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Captain Hector

Like so many issues today the general populace isn’t aware of all the facts, so can’t reach a reasoned view. If the additional money goes toward building power plant for the future, then o.k. If the energy companies are profiteering, then they should be nationalised. It seems morally wrong to profit on what is a necessary purchase to exist comfortably. I would go further and say it is immoral for the government to charge 5% VAT on fuel. This surcharge should be removed. I would also argue that it is wrong for energy companies to have standing charges. Standing charges ensure energy companies get revenue even if we all cut down on our fuel usage. If these standing charges were not in place I reckon the energy companies wouldn’t be so cavalier in hiking their prices. Their incomes would be more seriously affected as we all cut down on our usage.

Thanks for your comment. You might be interested in our post ‘the truth behind spiralling energy prices’ http://conversation.which.co.uk/energy-home/truth-energy-price-rises-electricity-gas-bills/

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dieseltaylor

On the other thread I have pointed it out that standing charges are not as wrong s they appear. There is a cost in the fixed infrastructure that conveys gas, electric, and water to households.

If I live up a glen in Scotland in a property already supplied by electricity I may have several miles of poles and expensive copper devoted entirely to supplying me. As a supplier I am responsible for its repair, its replacement, and it is a contract I am locked into. As the holidaymaker who owns the property, and possibly lets it out for a profit, I would dearly love a single tariff. I would be seriously quids in.

If I as a supplier am providing electricity by the street I have plenty of customers to spread the cost so they should pay less than a single user miles from anywhere. It was government policy to provide electricity around the country and socially that is a good idea. However how much “we” should subsidise remote communities is a question that should be asked and answered rather than suggesting standing charges be absorbed into a tariff where like it or not we town dwellers are being asked to pay to benefit others.

We know now that the Government is happy to reduce petrol price by 5p a litre for remote communities so perhaps the Government, as a social policy, will look at residents who do pay large standing charges to see how they can assist.

Incidentally in a previous Conversation on power the EU figures show conclusively that the UK was by far not the most expensive country for gas, or for electricity and it seems weird that we and particularly the media are covering this matter and seem prepared to believe that the UK exists in a bubble unaffected by the prices in the EU/World.

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Chris Gloucester

Poor British Gas only making 5% profit on our energy bills. Of course they don’t mention the 20% profit their parent company and wholesale supplier makes do they.
Poor British gas not making even more money from the standing charge we all pay, A guaranteed income before any energy is even sold.
Poor treasury on making 5% VAT on our gas bills. Didn’t mention how much more money they’ll make now the price, and therefore the amount in VAT, will get raked in.
Not to mention the levy we’re all paying so those who can afford to have them fitted rake in feed in tariff money for their solar panels. Mostly from people who cannot afford to pay and cannot afford to jump on the bandwagon.

The whole stinking corrupt setup is a national disgrace which will kill people and our Government just sits there playing with itself and only offering “helpful” advice like put on another jumper or switch to an equally expensive alternative supplier or privatization ensures your bills are lower because of competition. Rubbish.

A fundamental element of national infrastructure can only operate for the benefit of the population if under national control. Energy supply (a cartel in all but name) operates currently for the sole benefit of the shareholder. The same applies to water supply rail transport and now the Royal Mail. It stinks. They’ve got it very very wrong.

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Ed

Switch… thats what Mr Cameron says, but to where? I rang EOn, npower and scottish power – no one could guarantee me that there wont be a price hike soon. Only Co-op energy claimed that there wont be a price hike in 2013. Co-Op wont also charge extra for gas transported through IGT (most bix six charge £50 per year extra) and they Co-Op have only ONE tariff, that is JUST ONE TARIFF, called Pioneer.

Unless Mr Cameron forces every bix six to have just 1 tariff each for gas & electricity, comparing and switching is mind boggling for many. If Thames Water has only one tariff for water, why not the energy companies who supply the same gas & electricity?

Ofgem is toothless dead regulator who even allowed energy companies to lock consumers into tariffs by allowing to levy exit penalties which range between £60 – £100, which also put off people from switching.

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Mala Mason

I cant switch as my meter is in our courtyard and the only one who has access is the EDF inspector
I have tried to get in touch with them about the blue promise but I cant gethold of them no matter what time I phone them. Ive tried to do this online, but the computer just throws me out.

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richard

RE Nationalise the UTILITIES that were privatised by the previous Tory Mismanagement. Huge profits for shareholders – huge costs to consumers

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Alex perthshire

change to BG fixed price tariffs on offer will mean 18.8% & 24.47% increase, where is the 9.2%?

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Douglas

British Gas badly needs its Dyno Rod right up where it is needed

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Tim, Darlington

I would be grateful if someone could supply me with an address for British Gas so I can send them my hourly rate for reading my own gas and electric meters in order to avoid an estimated bill. The last time I checked I was not employed by British Gas et al, so find it ridiculous that they expect me to do this for them for free.

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Beryl

Well done Which? Time for action NOW. The debate has gone on long enough. There is still competition in the Supermarkets so you can’t compare them with the Energy Co’s who sell their own product to themselves. It’s now up to George O to break the deadlock before the winter sets in so keep the campaign going Which?

Thanks for the support Beryl. For others watching – here’s our latest energy campaign calling on George Osborne to cut the Big Six and your energy bills down to size: http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/energy-prices/

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Entente Cordiale

Does Which or anyone else know the answer to this question: What proportion of the average wage in other EU countries goes on energy?
At this rate with wages permanently pegged down, it won’t be long before most people in this country have to give up on central heating. It’s obscene and unforgivable for this and predecessor governments turn a blind eye to this blatant fleecing of its people.Like most people born in the early 50s, I grew up in a house with no central heating whatsoever. Are we heading back to those bad old days?

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John Ward

I think many people are already having to be a lot more frugal in their lifestyle and review any expenditure that is not essential so that they can keep warm and have hot water. Once they have done that a return to the nineteen-fifties is the only way to go. For a growing segment of the population this is unfortunately already the reality and it is difficult to see how they can economise any more without risking their very survival. It is very worrying because it threatens social cohesion.

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Beryl

According to ZEW Centre of European Economic Research the poorest 10 percent of German households need to spend 19 percent of equivalised income on energy services whereas the richest 10 percent spend 4.8 percent of their income which again penalises the poorest who have higher energy needs such as the elderly, the sick and disabled, and lone parents. It is generally accepted also that energy costs of 10 percent or more of income brings consumers into the energy poor category.

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