More than four million British Gas customers will see their gas and electricity prices rise by an average £60 a year from the end of May - if you're affected ACT NOW to beat the rise.
The energy firm today announced it is increasing its prices by an average 5.5% from 29 May for both its standard variable tariff and its new Temporary Tariff fixed-rate deal, which replaced the standard tariff at the end of March.
The price increase will impact more than 4.1 million standard variable customers, plus those on its Temporary Tariff, but the 3.7 million customers who are classed as vulnerable, are on a fixed-term contract or a prepayment meter will be unaffected.
If you get your gas and electricity from Sainsbury's Energy - a 'white label' of British Gas, so it's the same company using a different brand name - and you're on its standard tariff, you'll also be hit by the same price rise.
If you're affected by this price rise, you're likely already overpaying for your gas and electricity, since it only affects those on British Gas's standard variable tariff and Temporary Tariff, which are more expensive than many others on the market anyway.
Our Big Switch 10 is now on, to see if you can save by switching do a full market comparison on our free Cheap Energy Club.
I am a British Gas customer - how am I affected?
You're only affected if you're on British Gas's standard variable tariff (SVT) or Temporary Tariff, which is the new fixed-rate deal that customers are rolled onto once their existing tariff with British Gas ends. See our MSE British Gas scraps its standard tariff for new customers News story for more.
- If you're on the SVT – your annual bill will rise by £60 on average (£30 for gas and £30 for electricity) to £1,161 for a typical dual-fuel customer, an average 5.5% rise.
- If you're on the Temporary Tariff – your annual bill will increase by £60 on average (£30 for gas and £30 electricity) to £1,136 for a typical dual-fuel customer, this equates to a rise of slightly more than 5.5%.
Martin: 'If you do nothing you WILL be taken advantage of'
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com said: “Millions of customers will rightly be furious with British Gas when they hear the news of this price hike – yet some of the ire must also be turned upon themselves. We live in a market where the ‘do-somethings’ pay far less than the ‘do-nothings’.
"For someone with typical use, British Gas customers can save over £350/year by ditching and switching, and many firms who are far cheaper have vastly better customer service ratings. Therefore the message is plain. If you do nothing you WILL be taken advantage of.
“Yet the real question here is how do we protect vulnerable customers who, rather than apathetic, are unable to switch due to confusion, lack of online access or fear. The flaccid price cap we have in place for them only reduces their costs by a relatively trivial £70. This means that a wealthy, savvy man like me who switches regularly pays far less to boil a kettle than a struggling 90 year old grandmother - a curse of our energy market no one is fixing.”
“Normally when we see British Gas announce price hikes, like bleating sheep the other energy companies follow suit. That’s a more difficult call to make this time, because British Gas’ standard tariff was the cheapest of the Big Six and even after this rise isn’t quite the most expensive. Yet on balance I suspect we will see some of the others follow suit, not solely because of cost increases, but because in a PR sense, now British Gas will face the full first-mover flak, they can sneak in afterwards knowing it’ll be less of a hit.”
How can I beat the hike?
Everyone affected by the hike can move to a new tariff penalty-free, but you don't need to wait for the price increase to hit - you can act now to save.
There are no exit fees with both British Gas's standard tariff and its replacement fix, so you can ditch and switch penalty-free at any point. Use our free Cheap Energy Club to do a full market comparison to find the best deal for you.
If you want to stick with British Gas, you could switch to its cheapest tariff, Home Energy Plus Cover May 2019 at £1,055/yr. This tariff also comes with boiler breakdown cover it values at £42/year.
What is a standard variable tariff?
An SVT is an energy supplier's default tariff. If you've never switched it's likely you're on one, while those on fixed deals are automatically rolled onto this tariff once their fixed-term period expires.
The cost of an SVT is, as the name suggests, variable. So the rate you pay can go up or down depending on wholesale energy costs – what suppliers pay for gas and electricity – and there are no exit fees or fixed end date.
Conversely, a fixed-price tariff essentially means the unit price you agree to pay for your energy is set for a certain period such as one or two years, meaning it won't increase for the duration of the fix. However, these tariffs may have exit fees if you decide to switch before it ends.
What is the Temporary Tariff?
In October 2017, Ofgem introduced new rules letting suppliers roll customers on to new fixed deals, where previously they had to move all customers at the end of fixed-term deals on to a standard variable tariff.
British Gas has its own default tariff, known as the Temporary Tariff, which customers can leave at any point penalty-free. Customers who do not move to a new deal when their existing fixed-term tariff ends will move onto this 12 month fixed-term default tariff.
It's a slightly better deal than the SVT, and the price is fixed for around a year, but many could save £100s more by switching provider entirely, especially now the tariff will be increasing by an average £60 a year to £1,136.
Use our free Cheap Energy Club to do a full market comparison to find the best deal for you.
What does British Gas say?
British Gas chief executive Mark Hodges said: "We continue to work hard to reduce our own costs and keep our prices as low as possible.
"We have seen other suppliers raise prices and Ofgem increase the level of the prepayment tariff cap largely due to increasing wholesale energy and Government policy costs.
"Government policies, intended to transform the energy system, are important but they are putting pressure on customers' bills.
"We believe Government should level the playing field so the customers of all suppliers pay a fair share of energy policy costs.
"We also continue to call on Ofgem to end the standard variable tariff across the market which would encourage customers to proactively seek the best energy deal for them."