Millions of households supplied by SSE, which includes M&S Energy customers, will see electricity prices hiked by an average of 14.9% – or 6.9% on average for a dual fuel customer – from 28 April 2017.
The move means a typical dual fuel customer will pay an average of £73 a year more, taking bills to £1,142 per year on average.
Around 2.8 million customers in Great Britain are affected, although prepayment meter customers will not be hit. Gas prices will also remain unchanged.
SSE prices have been frozen since December 2016, and the supplier says it’s been three and a half years since it last upped prices. It blames the price hikes on higher costs associated with delivering government programmes to upgrade Britain’s energy infrastructure and to move towards a low carbon future.
Will Morris, managing director for retail at SSE, says: “We deeply regret having to raise electricity prices. This is the first increase since 2013 and we’ve worked hard to keep them down for as long as possible by cutting our own costs, putting in place a winter price freeze and holding gas prices, but we have seen significant increases in electricity costs which are outside our control. Without an increase we would have been supplying electricity to domestic customers at a loss.”
Fund launched to help electricity users
The Big Six provider has however today launched a five million fund to provide additional financial support for “those who need it most, particularly those who rely on electricity for their heating”.
A little over half of the fund will provide automatic payments to customers which SSE says it knows use electric heating or are more dependent on electricity use because of their personal circumstances. The remainder will be reserved for customer service advisers to identify and help vulnerable customers on a discretionary basis. These customers will be primarily those with electric heating who meet one of the following criteria: have children in the household, a disability, chronic illness, are elderly, or pay for their energy using a prepayment meter.
This fund is in addition to the existing £46 million that SSE says it already spends helping customers through the Warm Home Discount scheme.
Save hundreds by switching
Claire Osborne, energy expert at price comparison website uSwitch says: "This price rise is a double whammy – not only is SSE the second largest energy supplier but it also has the highest proportion of customers sitting on its standard variable tariff.
"We urge consumers not to put up with these hikes but to fight back.”
Stephen Murray, energy expert at MoneySuperMarket, adds: “Now is the time to take action and lock in a fixed deal, before increasing prices get the better of your bills and you face inflated costs. There are savings of up to £229 to be made by shopping around and switching to a cheaper deal, so if you’re an SSE customer, or indeed if you’re on a standard tariff with another supplier, it’s worth switching.”
What are other providers doing?
Here’s what the other Big Six providers are doing:
- British Gas: Frozen standard variable prices until August.
- E.on: Frozen standard variable tariff until April 2017.
- EDF: Cut gas bills by up to 12.9% from 6 January but upped electricity prices by up to 8.4% from 1 March.
- Npower: Upped prices by an average of 10% from 16 March.
- Scottish Power: Announced electricity prices will rise by an average of 10.8% while gas prices will go up by 4.7% on average from 31 March.
Households in Northern Ireland will also be hit with gas price hikes from 31 March, as Firmus and SSE Airtricity have announced price increases of up to 12.2%.