Energy firms set to hike winter prices

Caroline Cassidy

Cash-strapped Brits face another gloomy winter as consumer groups suspect energy price hikes are on their way.

winter energy firms price hikes
winter energy firms price hikes

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Though major supplier E.ON has pledged not to increase tariffs before 31 December, industry experts expect prices to rise as soon as the deadline is up, potentially plunging struggling families into fuel poverty.

Last year all of the Big Six came under fire for hiking prices in the autumn before dropping them in the spring.

And already the same looks likely to happen. Southern Electric owner SSE has already announced that rates will increase by nine per cent as of next week, while British has warned bills could rise by an average of £130 this winter, taking dual fuel bills to a record high.

While E.ON tempted new customers with its 2012 price promise back in May, Martin Lewis, of Money Saving Expert, predicted that prices would "jump" come January - and industry experts predict all the major firms will follow suit.

Mr Lewis told the Daily Mail that such price guarantees lull customers into a "false sense of security", and added: "The promise is 'no price hikes this year'. So technically, it could announce a hike in November to start on 1 January/

"January and February are the coldest months of the year, but the price promise does not extend to then. Most people who switch stay with that provider for years, so the few months of price holds is of limited impact."

He called for energy companies to promise fixed prices for the first six months of a customer contract.

But a spokesman for E.ON said: "Our price promise runs until the end of the year. While we do everything we can to help our customers, we can't guarantee that we will extend this. We are not ruling anything in or out at the moment."

What do you think? Are the Big Six cashing in during the colder months? Leave your comments below...