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EDF raises bills – at a time many face cut offs

EDF raises  bills – at a time many face cut offs

Category: Gas and electricity

Updated: 12/11/2013
First Published: 12/11/2013

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

EDF Energy has just announced plans to raise its gas and electricity prices by an average of 3.9%, bringing its standard variable price to £1,300 per year – an increase of £49.

It's the latest of the big six energy firms to raise its prices but says it's more than half that of its rivals – Npower raised its rates by a whopping 10.4% and British Gas by 9.2%, for example – but the rise will still affect its 3.7 million customers.

From a positive standpoint, the rise is minimal compared to its competitors and the company has actually broken down the reasons behind the £49 rise, with wholesale energy costs accounting for just £1 of the increase.

The firm has pointed out, however, that their new prices have been arrived at under the assumption that green taxes will be reduced in December; if they're not, customers could potentially face a further increase.

Mark Todd, of energyhelpline.com, commented on the news: "This is the lowest price rise so far at 3.9%, and is set to embarrass the four other Big Six players that have so far announced hikes averaging 9.1%.

"[But] This may not be the final price rise we see from EDF … Customers would be best served to switch to a low cost fixed rate tariff now to beat further price rises."

EDF's announcement comes on the day that energy secretary Ed Davey is set to call on the energy industry to "open up its books" and show how it's trying to minimise tariffs. His speech is due to take place later today, and he's expected to say that gas and electricity customers are "not just cash cows" that can be "squeezed" for bigger profits.

Unfortunately it won't be enough to help consumers who are already feeling the pinch. This latest price rise is set to put even more pressure on struggling households, with research from the Debt Advisory Centre uncovering the worrying number of energy customers who get cut off on a regular basis.

One in ten gas and electricity customers (or 10% of gas customers and 9% of electricity customers) who have a pre-payment meter installed are cut off at least once a week, while an additional 15% are cut off once a month or more.

Pre-payment meters are intended to help people stay in control of their energy bills, but unfortunately paying in advance means some people run out of credit – and if they can't afford to top it back up, they lose access to energy.

This means a lot of people could be facing a cold winter, and with EDF just the latest company to announce price rises it could get even tougher.

Ian Williams, of the Debt Advisory Centre, commented: "When energy gets even more expensive, and temperatures really start to drop, pre-payment meter customers could find that they use up their credit more quickly – and the worry is that they won't be able to afford to top up straight away.

"For customers who are elderly or who have young families, this could become a very serious problem."

Again, consumers are being urged to do all they can to keep their bills as low as possible, and switching to a low-cost fixed price tariff is one of the best options. But, you need to act fast – with price rises due to come into effect in the next few weeks, it's important to fix now to protect yourself from future price rises.

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