Npower increase bills by more than £100 year in a blow to families
Critics warned the move will open the way for a round of price rises over coming weeks as rivals follow suit. Millions face paying more for their gas and electricity, with annual energy costs expected to rocket from £1,063 to around £1,170.
Npower said prices will rise by 9.8 per cent from March, slapping an extra £109 on to the average dual fuel bill.
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The Government last night expressed “concern” at the increases. A Downing Street spokesman said: “We expect energy companies to treat their customers fairly. We have been clear that where markets aren’t working we are prepared to act.”
Npower bosses blamed soaring wholesale costs and escalating green taxes for the move, arguing it was a “hugely difficult decision”.
The rise – 4.8 per cent on gas and 15 per cent on electricity – will hit 1.4 million standard tariff holders while fixed rate and pre-payment customers escape.
The Npower announcement sparked an outcry among campaigners who accused energy companies of getting rich while families struggle to stay warm.
Mark Todd, director of Energyhelpline, said: “This is a shocking price rise and a big kick in the teeth to Npower standard tariff customers.
“Now the first big price rise is in, expect the floodgates to open. We are likely to see price rise after price rise this month.”
Npower is the second of the Big Six suppliers – British Gas, e.on, Npower, EDF Energy, Scottish Power and SSE – to unveil plans to raise prices.
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Last year EDF Energy said electricity prices will rise by 8.4 per cent in March although gas prices will fall by 5.2 per cent.
Mr Todd added: “ScottishPower, British Gas, SSE and e.on are all likely to announce price rises by the end of February. Our bet is that there will be a flurry of announcements.”
Simon Stacey, managing director of Npower’s domestic market, insisted the move had been delayed to protect vulnerable customers.
He said: “Since Npower last raised its prices three years ago there have been increases in wholesale energy costs and rises in the cost of delivering Government policies, such as smart metering.
Npower announced prices will rise by 9.8 per cent in March
“We’re already delaying the impact of the increase for vulnerable customers, but anyone who is struggling with their energy bills should contact us straight away.”
Stephen Murray, of MoneySuperMarket, said: “Standard customers continue to pay over the odds for their gas and electricity.”
Consumer association Which? accused energy firms of not doing enough to make sure customers get a fair deal. Spokesman Alex Neill said: “The Government and regulator must be ready to act.”
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