Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Centrica jumps as price cap for energy bills ends uncertainty

More than 11 million households across the UK will benefit from an energy cap that will save them an average of £75 a year. File image More than 11 million households across the UK will benefit from an energy cap that will save them an average of £75 a year. File image
Russell Knight | 09 September, 2018, 06:44

The price cap, which Ofgem said would save 11 million households on default deals about £75 on average, removes uncertainty that has weighed on the energy market.

"When the price cap is introduced suppliers will have to cut their prices to the level of or below the cap, proposed to be £1,136 per year for a typical dual fuel customer" whose pay monthly from their bank accounts, Ofgem said Thursday.

Finally, Ofgem will be able to change the cap every six months to reflect the costs that providers can't control, such as oil and gas prices.

"Once the price cap is in place, all households in Great Britain covered by the cap will be protected from being overcharged for their energy".

Dermot Nolan, chief executive of Ofgem, said it was "a tough price cap which will give a fairer deal to consumers".

Ofgem's cap is in the lower range of analysts' expectations, who pegged it at between 1,120 and 1,200 pounds.

"If costs increase, Ofgem will ensure any rise will be due to genuine increases in energy costs rather than supplier profiteering", he said.

The Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry says today's proposals "are a step forward as this Government delivers an energy market that puts consumers at its heart", but in actual fact the new cap could prove an own goal for customers.

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The cap could stay in force until 2023, although the Secretary of State could lift it before then if the market becomes more competitive.

"There are over 100 tariffs available right now which are cheaper than the proposed level of the price cap at £1,136", he said. Customers on SVT pay on average £1,185 a year.

The price cap will apply to default standard variable tariffs (SVTs), the price plans offered by energy companies which are typically the most expensive.

Nevertheless, the company reiterated its position that caps were not sustainable for the United Kingdom energy market.

"It is vital that the regulator, Ofgem, makes it very clear that the price cap is a temporary solution and that people will still most likely only get the best deals by shopping around for fixed tariffs".

Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, the trade body for suppliers, said: "There are over 70 suppliers in the energy market who will now be assessing how this impacts their individual business, however for many suppliers this will pose a significant challenge. The best way to drive down prices is to increase competition through regular switching".

Finally, Stephen Murray, energy expert at MoneySuperMarket, adds: "It's also worth noting the price cap can easily go up as well as down, so those savings aren't even guaranteed".

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