British Gas announced today that it is taking its Click Energy 5 plan – until yesterday the cheapest plan available – off the market and increasing prices for those consumers which are already signed up to it, according to price comparison site uSwitch.com.
Today's price for the Click Energy 5 deal, which cost on average £845 yesterday, was hiked by £305 to £1,150 for existing customers; new customers will be able to sign up to British Gas
's new Click Energy 6 plan, at £1,057 on average - £212 more than yesterday's Click 5 rate.
Ann Robinson, consumer policy director at uSwitch.com, says: "This is a blow for cash strapped consumers who have just seen the most competitive energy deal disappear from under their noses. It proves that consumers need to keep on top of the deals on offer if they are to minimise the impact of soaring energy prices this winter.
"Consumers must not be put off by British Gas' move today," because, as Ms Robinson points out: "online plans are still the best option for worried consumers as they are £178 cheaper on average than suppliers' standard plans."
She adds: "With winter approaching, my advice is to make sure you are paying the lowest possible price for your household energy and learn to use less of it. Paying by direct debit and moving to an online plan will still cut your energy bills - but you need to act now."
Scott Byrom, utilities manager at moneysupermarket.com, commented: "The new tariff remains the best deal in the energy market but, as with all online products, customers will see bills burst through the £1000 barrier with average bills of £1056 a year."
He advises consumers who recently moved to the Click Energy 5 deal and who have been hit hardest by this 35 per cent increase to their tariff to contact British Gas to find out if they can be moved to the newer Click Energy 6 version in order to reduce their fuel bills
and to save at least the £100 difference between the two deals.
Mr Byrom urged consumers to compare energy suppliers
and concluded: "I advise anyone languishing on a standard tariff to move on to the best deal now to avoid wasting hard earned cash, especially in the current economic climate."
"For bill payers seeking security in their outgoings, fixed tariffs remain an attractive option. Scottish Power's Fixed Price Energy 2009 is cheaper than most standard tariffs, but of course more expensive than online offerings."
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