Poorest households hit hardest by energy bill rip-off

The poorest 10 per cent of households have seen their energy bills rise nearly twice as fast as other households.

The poorest 10 per cent of households have seen their energy bills rise nearly twice as fast as other households

The poorest households have been hit the hardest by the rise in energy bills since 2010, according to analysis from the House of Commons library.

The average household’s annual energy bill is now £260 higher compared to 2010, according to the analysis by Labour based on figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Electricity and gas bills for the poorest households have risen by 40 per cent and 53 per cent in cash terms between 2010 and 2013.

Labour is today holding an Opposition Day today on a motion requiring the government to introduce fast-track legislation giving Ofgem the powers to cut bills when wholesale prices fall but the energy firms do not cut bills for customers.

Ofgem estimates that the supply margins of the Big Six have doubled in the last twelve months, increasing from 4 per cent (£49) in 2013 to 8 per cent (£105) today.

Ofgem recently referred the energy companies to the Competition and Markets Authority, stating: “We found that suppliers do not adjust their prices as quickly when costs fall compared to when wholesale costs rise… This asymmetry has become more pronounced than when Ofgem performed a similar exercise in 2011.

Speaking ahead of today’s debate, shadow secretary of state for energy and climate change Caroline Flint said:

“Millions have been ripped off by the big energy firms who never seem to pass on savings to customers, but these figures show that the poorest households are paying the heaviest price for the Tories’ failure to stand up to the energy companies and ensure that the full savings from wholesale cost falls are passed on to all consumers.

“The next Labour government is committed to making big changes in our energy market: freezing energy prices until 2017 so that bills can fall but not rise, resetting the market and bringing in a tough new regulator to stop the rip-offs in the future. But consumers need action on energy bills now. This can begin today with a vote in the House of Commons on fast-track legislation.”

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