Consumers are set to be hit with a 15% hike in gas prices next winter, as energy companies try to offset the cost of increases to the price of wholesale gas.
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Centrica, the owner of British Gas, has said that retail energy costs will go up ñ putting more strain on household budgets which have already been stretched to breaking point as a result of the recession.
The claim from Centric drew criticism from homeowners and politicians alike, the rise could see bills go up by as much as £100 in the next 18 months.
ìHard-pressed families and pensioners struggling to make ends meet will be astonished that Centrica, who made billions in profits and paid out millions in bonuses last year, are now threatening another round of price hikes,î said Caroline Flint, shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary.
British Gas increased electricity prices by 16% and gas prices by 18% in August 2011, although the company tried to remedy this increase with a 5% cut in its standard electricity tariff in January this year.
ìConsumers will need clear evidence that price rises are warranted if they are to stomach further increases to their bills,î said Audrey Gallacher of Consumer Focus.
ìPeople simply do not know whether what they are asked to pay is fair. The perception is that suppliers are quick to pass on high price rises and slow to pass on small price cuts.
Warnings of a price rise came despite the fact that Centrica said it remained on track to increase its residential business profits by 10% or more. However, the company argued that this was largely due to its cost controlling measures.
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