Jesmond reacts to energy price hikes
By now everyone knows that the top six energy companies in the UK have all hiked up their energy rates ahead of the upcoming winter. The BBC reported back in October that British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power, and Scottish and Southern Power have raised gas and electricity prices between 8 and 10%. But what will the impact be on Jesmond residents and their household bills?
Jesmond resident Christopher McKeon received notice that his bill would increase, but isn’t sure if it’s due to the nationwide rise. McKeon told JesmondLocal that “far as I know, I have to pay another £2 per fortnight from next week, but that’s on estimate, and it depends on the next quarter whether they’ll keep it at that or reduce it again. But I don’t know if that represents the 10% increase, but I had that notification before said they would put it up 10%. It’s quite a big rise, in less than a year, so I’m hoping it will be stable and it won’t increase any more.”
The rise has been blamed on the growing costs of the energy wholesale market and the gas and energy networks. Claims have also been made that this would prompt consumers to hunt for better deals amongst providers. But Jesmond resident and current student Scott Dickson thinks switching providers is more of a hassle than a help.
Dickson says: “Our bills are going up by 9% for gas and electric, but we’ve decided not to change our energy supplier due to most of the energy suppliers increasing their bills by minimum of 8% going up to about 10%, and also the amount of hassle that it costs to change your energy supplier. We can’t really be bothered.”
The rise is said to affect around three million customers nationwide, including households and businesses. One local resident, Sheila, is avoiding the rise due to a fixed rate she managed to lock in with her energy company. “I haven’t seen a rise yet. I think everyone will be affected. But my energy prices are fixed for two years with the company that I’m with, so I won’t see any change for two years,” she insists.
Businesses rates will also rise, but some have managed to swerve the increases for now. Sharon, the owner of Archer’s Jersey Ice Cream Parlour, located on Acorn Road, has also managed to avoid any increases. “We have a set rate with British Gas. I think it’s about two to three years that you have to take it over the period,” she notes.
With a number of people affected by the rising costs of energy, and the coming winter looking to be a cold one, energy price arguments are likely to remain at the forefront of people’s minds. Certainly, energy companies are not the public’s favourite people: a YouGov poll conducted in September found that 83% of people believe energy companies maximise profits at the expense of customers, while more than half say their suppliers treat them with contempt. Meanwhile 22% believe energy prices are a major threat to the economy – equal to the number of those polled who think interest rates and unemployment combined will have a detrimental impact on the economy. The government’s advice is to wrap up warm, while for the time being, locking in fixed prices is a way to ward against the volatility of the wholesale energy markets.