Energy bills in the UK rise faster than in the EU, figures show. Photo: David Sillitoe
Energy prices in Britain in the past year have risen twice as fast as the European Union average, according to latest figures.
Gas and electricity prices in the UK rose by 29.7% in the last 12 months compared with a 15% increase for the EU.
The figures, released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), show bills are up just 14% in France and 12.2% in Germany.
Ed Mayo, chief executive of government watchdog Consumer Focus, said: “The UK energy consumer is being clobbered faster and harder than those in Europe. Other countries may be doing more to keep their prices down and we should learn from them.
“The UK has a relatively free market, but the freedom to cut prices in the early years now seems to be the freedom to raise prices with impunity.
“Of course, those least able to afford it suffer most. The suppliers must offer their most vulnerable customers social tariffs and reduce prices generally at the earliest opportunity.”
The latest figures from regulator Ofgem suggest British households benefit from the cheapest gas prices in Europe and have electricity bills in line with the rest of the continent. But those statistics do not take into account how prices have risen this year.
A spokesman for the Energy Retailers Association, which represents domestic energy and gas suppliers in the UK, said: “What the OECD’s figures fail to demonstrate is that British customers have enjoyed historically very low prices compared to Europe and indeed the rest of the world.
“Primarily, this is due to us having our own vast reserves of natural gas in the North Sea and not being exposed to global prices in the same way as we are now.
“We are no longer an energy island. With increased demand from growing economies such as India and China, the prices we now pay for our energy are more vulnerable to fluctuations across the world.”
Wednesday November 05 2008 10.56 GMT
Source: The Guardian