Gas and electricity Updated:
UK consumers are being overcharged by £74 a year on average for the energy they use, as companies are refusing to pass on declines in wholesale prices in full, according to Consumer Focus.
The consumer watchdog says this will mean that energy customers in the UK will find themselves some £1.66 billion out of pocket this year.
Current prices for gas should be at least 7.4 per cent cheaper, meaning an annual saving of £60.10, while electricity bills should be 3.1 per cent lower, which would mean a yearly saving of £13.10, the group says.
Furthermore, the research also suggests that additional price cuts of up to eight per cent (£65 annually) for gas and four per cent (£17.80) for electricity should be made by the end of 2009, should the markets not experience substantial change.
In all, the cuts that are being called for would save consumers an average sum of £157 a year.
"Consumers have feared for months that the big six suppliers might not have passed on the full cuts in wholesale energy prices, but the companies claimed to have acted fairly," said Phillip Cullum, deputy chief executive of Consumer Focus.
"Our new research for the first time shows the reality. The companies are pocketing £1.6 million, while millions of households struggle to make ends meet.
"Energy firms should take immediate action to put things right for their customers. A failure to act, and to ensure that people pay a fair price for energy, could have serious consequences for the sector."
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