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Household energy bills rise by £1.2bn following price cap

BRITISH households have seen a combined £1.2 billion added to energy bills thanks to 42 price rises in the six months since the government’s flagship price cap came into force, new research revealed today.

By stopping suppliers from charging more than £1,137 for average usage in a typical home for customers on a standard variable tariff (SVT), the policy was supposed to end rip-off bills.

The Big Six suppliers however — British Gas, Eon, Scottish Power, SSE, EDF and Npower — have since raised all such tariffs to the highest possible limit.

And smaller providers Ebico and Tonik also joined in, with the highest average rises to bills of £162 and £144 respectively.

In the first six months of last year there were just 15 price rises and, despite wholesale gas and electricity prices falling, the average increase this year is higher than for 2018, according to auto-switching business Look After My Bills (LAMB).

So far in 2019 the average price rise has been £110 compared with £75 last year, with many suppliers trying to make up for shortfalls since the price cap was introduced in January, new data suggests.

LAMB head of research Lily Green said the sheer number and scale of price rises this year raises serious questions about the unintended consequences of the price cap.

She said: “It’s too early to tell but it’s possible that — in a perverse twist of fate — the price cap may have opened the door to price rises. Too many suppliers are seeing the cap as a target and taking the opportunity to push prices up.”

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