British Gas to increase energy prices by up to 18%

Gas fire

British Gas' customers face misery after the energy giant announced price hikes by up to 18% from 18 August.

It said its electricity will rise by 18% and gas will increase by 16%. This means the average dual fuel bill with British Gas will go up by £192 from £1,096 to £1,288, according to price comparison website uSwitch.

British Gas blames the price hikes on rising wholesale energy costs, which have risen by 30% since last winter due to higher global demand for energy and unrest in supplier regions in the Middle East and North Africa.

"We know there is never a good time to raise prices, but we are buying in a global energy market and have to pay the market rate," says Phil Bentley, managing director of British Gas.

Double price hike territory

British Gas, which is the country's largest energy supplier, last put up its prices in December by 6.9% for gas and 6.7% for electricity.

It is the second provider to announce two general price increases within a year, following ScottishPower's bill hikes at the beginning of June.

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch, says the industry is "straying into deeply worrying double price hike territory".

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She adds: "The impact on family budgets will be huge, but it will be particularly hard on those living on fixed incomes and I would urge both suppliers and the government to start thinking now of how they can provide some support."

British Gas' essentials tariff offers discounted rates and extra energy efficiency measures to help 300,000 of its customers.

Act now

Robinson advises customers act now before energy prices rocket further.

"Fixing your energy prices is an option that offers security and peace of mind, especially for those worried about the impact of price hikes on their household budget," she says.

"But whatever type of plan you opt for, always make sure you get an independent and impartial comparison based on your own personal circumstances before signing on the dotted line."

Worried by the latest energy price hikes? Check out our tips on how you can beat rising energy prices.