Householders have been told to expect increases in energy prices. Warning of the rises, by smaller suppliers wanting to pass on increases in wholesale costs, comes in the middle of blizzards and the worst winter weather for years.
Bulb, one of the fastest growing small suppliers, announced it would be raising its duel electricity and gas rates by £24 to £879 for a typical annual bill. Some of the poorest households are among those hit by the small company action. As many as 300,000 customers are affected by the Bulb decision.
Industry analysts believe bigger companies to break ranks shortly and announce price increases by up to 9 per cent, which would add about £100 a year to bills for the average household. A report from the energy regulator Ofgem is due imminently. Ofgem has already agreed rises for the five million vulnerable customers who have their bills capped lifting the ceiling by £57 a year from April.
A political row is due over Government plans to cap prices for 11 million households by next winter.
The regulator has been asked to put an end to what the Prime Minister called “rip-off” tariffs. But the organisation has also been told to preserve competition between suppliers which could result in the “rip-off” being adjusted only on the margins. The cap would then apply only to a minimum of applicants currently paying top dividends.