According to consumer comparison website uSwitch, British Gas' retail tariffs for standard and online accounts will be the most expensive in the UK market in 2007.
The retail arm of Centrica currently has the highest standard tariffs on the market following a September increase which saw gas tariffs go up 12.4% and electricity 9.4%. The rate hikes were the company’s second of 2006.
At the time of this announcement, the company promised to freeze its prices on its online Click Energy tariff until further notice. However, now British Gas has confirmed that the price freeze is to be lifted effective from January 8, 2007, making Click Energy the most expensive online tariff in the market, when previously it was the cheapest.
The news will leave all those customers who were swayed by this marketing ploy on a very poor deal, uSwitch says, and will result in them having to pay an extra 12.5% (GBP69) more for their gas and 9.6% (GBP29) more for their electricity.
Click Energy is now more expensive, at GBP944, than the standard tariffs of Scottish and Southern Energy, ScottishPower, EDF Energy and Powergen, based on average annual bills, uSwitch states.
British Gas’ price changes come despite the fact that wholesale gas prices have been dropping in the UK for the last nine months. Over the past couple of years, the UK’s energy firms have repeatedly increased tariffs, blaming soaring wholesale gas prices, but so far they have failed to pass on any of the 42% reduction in gas prices.
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, comments: British Gas clearly remains defiant to (UK) government and consumer calls for lower prices. It is clear that Centrica is a business that places shareholder value, not customer value, at the top of its agenda.
For as long as British Gas continues to supply more than half of the domestic gas market, and its million gas customers fail to wake up to the benefits of switching to a cheaper supplier, we can expect the company to take little notice of what other suppliers are doing or of their customer’s pleas for lower prices.