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British Gas to hike energy bills 7%

Around eight million British Gas customers will face higher utility bills from next month as the energy supplier confirmed a hike in tariffs.

Household bills for gas and electricity will increase by an average of 7% from December 10, which will amount to an increase of £1.50 on the average weekly dual-fuel bill. The increases apply to customers on standard and variable tariffs.

The company said rising wholesale prices had forced it to lift the bills, but vowed not to apply the increase to the company's 300,000 most vulnerable customers, such as the poorest pensioners.

The move follows a price lift by utility giant Scottish & Southern at the end of last month. SSE said it would put up its gas bills by 9% from December 1.

Industry regulator Ofgem recently warned that rising prices in the wholesale market - where suppliers buy their energy - could be passed on to the consumer.

British Gas, which is owned by Centrica, said it had witnessed a rise of more than 25% in wholesale gas prices since the spring.

The utility firm said the increase followed two years of price cuts, meaning its average dual-fuel bills were still lower than in January 2009.

British Gas managing director Phil Bentley said: "We know that rising energy prices come at a difficult time for many in Britain. That's why we are not raising prices for our vulnerable customers, such as the poorest pensioners, until after this winter."

Mr Bentley said customers could keep their bills down by improving the energy efficiency of their homes.

Some 1.6 million customers on fixed price deals will not be affected in any way, British Gas added.


From Belfast Telegraph