Energy giants told to pass on savings

Energy efficient house.

Energy firms are facing increased pressure from the government to pass on a fall in wholesale costs to consumers by slashing household bills.

Amber Rudd, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, has written to the Big Six energy companies asking them to alter their prices now a pre-election pledge by Labour to impose a freeze was off the table.

The latest analysis by regulator Ofgem found firms could increase their profit margins to up to £118 on an estimated annual dual fuel deal this year, while wholesale gas and electricity costs were £80 lower than they were estimated at a year ago.

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Ms Rudd told the Daily Mail: "Labour's price freeze was a theme for why they were unable to reduce prices before the election.

"Now that threat is no longer there, I intend to keep up the pressure on them to act."

She added: "My focus is to get the best deal for consumers and the department is working hard to keep energy bills as low as possible.

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"That is why I have written to energy companies asking them what their plans are to lower bills for hard-working British bill payers."

A spokesman for Energy UK told the paper: "Our members will be replying to the Secretary of State in due course and the industry as a whole is keen to work constructively with the new Government to ensure energy security at a price everyone can afford."

Prior to the general election, then Labour leader Ed Miliband promised a price freeze and new powers for Ofgem to enforce reductions.

Energy giants to earn £118 off each home

But the measure was criticised by Conservatives, who said it provided a barrier to cuts.

Last week SSE, the UK's second biggest supplier, reported a 39% increase in profits to £456.8 million for the year to March 31, meaning that it made an average of £69 from the supply of household electricity and gas - before tax and interest payments.

But it also revealed it had lost more than 500,000 customer accounts in the last year, despite its pledge to freeze bills until at least July 2016, citing "increasingly challenging and highly competitive market conditions".

The Competition and Markets Authority is currently undertaking a wide-ranging probe into the energy market to see if customers are being unfairly treated by the UK's dominant big six energy suppliers.

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Energy giants told to pass on savings
Back then there was no choice, because the mass-produced microwaveable meal was just a glint in a marketing guru's eye, but now, cooking from scratch can save substantial sums.
The older generation learned that there were meat-free days of the week to save money, and that if you had meat you''d stretch mince with breadcrumbs, or buy cheaper joints and use every scrap.
Perfect fruit and vegetables and top-of-the-range brands are a new phenomenon. Buy generic non-branded food and fruit and vegetables in whatever size and shape is most affordable

Nowadays we rush around the supermarket grabbing things we like the look of - with little idea of what we're going to do with it. Making a list and thinking about what you buy can save you thousands of pounds over the course of a year.

There's no such thing as 'left-overs' there's just the ingredients for tomorrow's dinner. The remains of the meat can be stir-fried the next day, the vegetables blended into  soup, and the potatoes saved for bubble and squeak.

Try an experiment and eliminate everything from your life with the word disposable in the title. Not only will you save money, but your bin will take far longer to fill too.

Before you bin anything, think twice about whether you can give it a second life. Think carefully, does your granny have her tried and tested tips that she has a habit of mentioning, for instance, washing out freezer bags? If you mock, you're missing a trick and wasting money and resources.
Cutting out draughts and insulating your home properly can cut 10% off your heating bill.
Back in the 1940s when no-one had central heating, people got used to wearing another layer at home. Try lowering your thermostat gradually, and only stop when those around you start to notice - you'll be surprised how much you can save.
If you save your washing and dish washing until you have a full load every time you'll save energy and save money.
Over the generations we have been sucked into believing the hype. In the days when adverts were few-and-far between, we managed without many of the things we consider essential nowadays. Re-consider what you buy, and why. Without advertising, would you buy any of it?
It's always cheaper to save in advance and plan a purchase than to rush in and borrow - which could end up costing you hundreds of pounds more in interest.
Older generations typically withdraw what they can afford to spend in cash and then leave their debit card at home or deep in their wallets. This has the advantage that they don't tend to reach for a debit or credit card and spend more than they can afford.
Because the older generations couldn't borrow their way out of trouble, they tended to plan more. Give your family a financial safety and a nest egg for the future.
Back when there were only a finite number of items of clothing to go around in a neighbourhood, people borrowed from each other for special occasions. Nowadays swapping and sharing can save substantial sums
Back in the 1940s when no-one had central heating, people got used to wearing another layer at home. Try lowering your thermostat gradually, and only stop when those around you start to notice - you'll be surprised how much you can save.
There was a time not so long ago when no-one could actually remember anyone who had actually bought a bike. They were passed through the siblings, then across family and friends networks, so that decades later, children were still learning to ride a bike for free. Of course it helps if you buy something gender-neutral, then you can hand it down, and reap the benefits as others hand expensive toys on to you.
In previous generations, neighbours would think nothing of asking each other to babysit, walk their dog, or to borrow a ladder. Nowadays we pay handsomely for babysitters and dog walkers, and each have an expensive ladder gathering dust in the shed.
The army of people who come to our homes to do odd jobs is a new phenomenon for all but the very wealthy. You may well have the skills required to complete these jobs, so get stuck in.

Ditch going out for dinner or browsing round the shops for taking a walk, visiting the beach with a picnic, or holding a family DVD night.

Nowadays we're constantly striving for a bigger TV, a flashier car and a better kitchen. Generations ago people never considered that they would ever be able to afford bigger, flashier and better, so they got on with the business of enjoying what they had.
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