, an independent online UK switching and comparison site, has criticized the relatively high prices UK energy consumers have to pay, arguing that the major inflation seen in 2006 will bring financial misery to many, particularly pensioners, in 2007. Meanwhile, Scottish and Southern Energy has expanded its early payment discount program.

According to uSwitch, energy prices in Britain increased by 36% in 2006, as most of the leading utilities bumped up tariffs twice in the year, but pensions increased by only 4%. Therefore, uSwitch argues, UK pensioners will suffer from greater energy poverty in 2007.

This stark reality, coupled with the fact that wholesale energy prices are now falling, has led uSwitch to ask when energy prices will begin to fall?

Prices will fall for customers of Scottish and Southern Energy (SEE) if they pay their bills early. SSE has increased its early payment discount so that it will now be worth around GBP40 to customers who pay their bills quarterly.

Energy supply director Alistair Phillips Davies said: We want to reward our customers for doing the right thing, not penalize them for doing the wrong thing. Our customers could receive an average of GBP40 off their bills just for paying them promptly.

This is the first of a number of measures we will be introducing in 2007 to start making energy bills better. Although we are already the lowest cost supplier across the country, we expect these measures to include a reduction in prices later this year.