Following Ofgem’s decision on 5 February to raise the energy price cap by £96 to £1,138 for the six month period from 1 April, British Gas has announced it is to increase the price of its average standard default tariff by £97, from £1,041 to £1,138 a year, affecting 2.3 million customers.

Commenting on the news, Tom Lyon, director of energy at energyhelpline.com, said:

“News of this price rise – which amounts to an eye-watering £229million – couldn’t come at a worse time for British Gas customers, after almost a year coping with higher energy bills due to lockdown restrictions.

“Although Ofgem has given a green light for price rises on default tariffs from April, energy suppliers are not obliged to hike the bills for hard-pressed consumers. We call on British Gas’ rivals to do the right thing by their customers and hold off any increases, especially as hopes rise for the easing of restrictions from the vaccine roll out.

“With the number of homes in the red to their energy provider already at a record five-year high, the surge in debt is only set to get worse with the prospect of further price rises. That’s why we are also calling on the Government to look at ways to help households with spiralling energy costs, for example by temporarily cutting VAT and reforming the Cold Weather Payment so it better helps the most vulnerable to keep warm.

“While the price cap affects some of the most expensive deals on the market, fixed deals are unaffected and switching to a competitive fixed tariff will lower bills and lock in prices for 12 months or more. However, rising wholesale costs have increased the prices of the most competitive tariffs on the market by 17% since last April, so consumers are strongly advised to switch and fix sooner rather than later.”