Rising gas bills can be a nightmare for so many of us. Here’s what you can expect as gas shortages hit the UK
Rising gas prices are already affecting consumers across the UK, amidst what appears to be a perfect storm for the industry.
Several of the UK’s North Sea gas platforms have closed for maintenance while further supply problems have taken effect across Europe.
Gas production in the UK between January and August was down 28% compared to the same period in 2020.
As a result, the demand for gas is much higher and gas prices will likely rise in order to keep up. Several gas suppliers have already gone under.
After the pandemic hit the economy hard, more and more people have been affected by an economy in recession and the timing of the price hike is not welcome news.
Non-profit organisation Oil and Gas UK published figures in early September that explained why the problem has hit the UK.
According to their figures, oil and gas represented 56% of global energy consumption in 2020. But in the UK, 73% of UK primary energy consumed in the same year was oil and gas.
Will my energy bills rise?
The regulator, Ofgem, have announced a rise in the energy price cap of £139. This will come into effect from 1 October.
Any fixed deal you are on will not change, but should your contract be coming to an end, any new deal will likely have a price increase.
Your suppliers are themselves facing price hikes due to gas being in demand, meaning they are being forced to charge more to cover costs.
Ofgem’s chief executive Jonathan Brearley, said: “Higher energy bills are never welcome and the timing and size of this increase will be particularly difficult for many families still struggling with the impact of the pandemic.
“The price cap means suppliers only pass on legitimate costs of supplying energy and cannot charge more than the level of the price cap, although they can charge less.”
How can I find out what tariff I am on?
Contacting your energy supplier is vital for finding what sort of payment plan you are on.
Most people are on what’s known as a Standard Variable Rate (SVT). Around 11 million UK households are on this particular tariff.
This is not a fixed term contract and therefore your bills can change at any time, so a keen eye should be kept on the contents of your bills.
Your energy supplier must provide 30 days’ notice for this, however.
Fixed term contracts cannot be changed, but the prices of these contracts are now going up.
What can I do if I am struggling to pay my gas bills?
According to Citizens Advice, it is important to try and negotiate with your supplier any deal you may currently have and also discuss ways of paying them.
Annoying as it may be, with other life stresses that may be affecting you, not following this negotiation process could cause your supplier to threaten to disconnect your gas.
Brearley stated: “If you’re struggling to pay your bill you can get in touch with your supplier to access the help that’s available and if possible, shop around for a better deal.
“We have put tough rules in place to ensure suppliers treat customers who are struggling with bills fairly.”
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