Household energy bills are expected to hit new highs in the coming months as the wholesale cost of gas and oil hits record levels, new research from Energyhelpline.com has revealed.
According to the research, gas bills could rise by 66 per cent by the end of next winter, taking a typical gas bill from £665 to more than £1,000 a year. And electricity bills also look set to rise as a lot of electricity is generated by gas.
In line with these predictions, the UK's second largest energy company, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) failed to rule out price increases in its preliminary results statement.
In failing to deny a potential increases, SSE is following in British Gas' footsteps indicating that the rise in wholesale costs would have to be passed on to the consumer. In its statement, SSE said: "Over the past few years, SSE has adopted a responsible pricing policy.
"The policy means that SSE seeks to be the last, or one of the last, of the major suppliers to increase prices if it has to and the first, or one of the first, to reduce prices if it can."
The Government recognised the impending price increases by announcing yesterday a number of measures to help vulnerable consumers, in particular the elderly. The moves are aimed at educating consumers in how to make their homes warmer and more energy efficient and reducing their gas and electricity
Speaking of the measures, energy minister Malcolm Wicks said: "In the light of rising energy costs
and the increasing global demand for energy we have to think long term and carefully and provide sustainable solutions to those most likely to need help.
"As well as measures to improve the incomes of the vulnerable, a key part of this must be energy efficiency which will help bring people's bills down in future and keep their homes warm."
Environmental minister, Phil Woolas, added: "Fuel poverty isn't just a winter issue – it's about working all year round to improve the homes of some of the most vulnerable people in this country, and that's something the Government is determined to do."
However, according to Age Concern, these latest efforts from the Government are not enough to combat rising gas and oil prices. Director general, Gordon Lishman, said: "Rapidly increasing energy costs are pushing increasing numbers of older people into fuel poverty. We estimate that price hikes could see 750,000 more pensioner households in fuel poverty at the end of 2008 than at the start of the year.
"The help being offered to the poorest and most vulnerable customers from the Government and energy companies is woefully inadequate to the scale of the problem. We need to see a raft of measures put in place to halt the fuel poverty crisis." Mr Lishman concluded.
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