UK energy users 'being clobbered'

UK energy users are 'being clobbered faster and harder than those in Europe', according to Ed Mayo, chief executive of Government watchdog Consumer Focus.

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He said that British householders' gas and electricity prices rose by 29.7% in the past year, compared with an average 15% increase for the EU.

Figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that bills are up just 14% in France and 12.2% in Germany.

Mr Mayo said: "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."

But figures from regulator Ofgem suggest that British householders benefit from the cheapest gas prices in Europe and electricity bills in line with the rest of the continent.

A spokesman for the Energy Retailers Association, which represents UK suppliers, said: "We have enjoyed historically very low prices compared with Europe and the rest of the world.

"This has been due to us having our own vast reserves of natural gas in the North Sea. But we are no longer an energy island, and the prices we now pay are more vulnerable to fluctuations across the world."

Copyright © PA Business 2008

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