Npower has announced that it's raising its standard energy prices by an average of 9.8% – and it's received huge amounts of criticism as a result.
The 9.8% increase is made up of a 4.8% rise to gas prices and a whopping 15% increase to electricity prices, which means the typical dual fuel bill will rise by an average of £109. The new charges are set to come into effect on 16 March and are expected to impact half of the firm's 2.8m customers, with pre-payment customers and those on fixed rate tariffs not affected.
Unsurprisingly, such a huge increase hasn't gone unnoticed, with the dramatic hike in electricity prices gaining particular attention. The firm says that this is the first time it's increased rates since October 2013, blaming the rise on increased wholesale energy costs and the cost of delivering various Government policies, but that certainly won't placate the 1.4m people who are set to feel the impact on their budgets.
Simon Stacey, managing director of domestic markets at the firm, said that it was a "hugely difficult decision", and that they've "delayed the date this takes effect until after the coldest months of the year". He also said that customers who have been identified as being particularly vulnerable won't face the price increase until May, and he revealed the launch of a new tariff to encourage more engagement.
The new deal is a four-year tariff that will be offered at a 4.8% discount with no exit fee, and is exclusive to current customers, to encourage them to switch from their standard tariff onto a fixed rate. This will hopefully mean that said customers can avoid being hit with such a rate hike, but the fact that npower is raising prices so much to begin with is attracting serious criticism.
So don't put up with it! If you're on an expensive standard variable rate tariff and want to avoid price hikes in March, start comparing alternatives to see if you can find a better deal. This applies to customers of all providers – npower may be the first of the Big Six to announce rate hikes so far this year, but where one starts, others soon follow.
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