East Anglia: MP Douglas Carswell speaks out over energy price rises

AN MP has warned families will suffer after Npower and British Gas confirmed price rises yesterday.

Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP for Clacton, said the price hikes were “completely unnecessary” and would affect people who were already dealing with rises in their shopping and fuel costs.

Chancellor George Osborne urged the energy firms to reconsider after unions and consumer groups warned more households would be plunged into a “long, cold winter”. Mr Osborne said British Gas and Npower should make sure the hikes were the “absolute minimum” necessary.

British Gas announced an extra �80 on to its typical annual dual fuel bill, with an average increase of 6% affecting 8.5million customers from November 16.

Rival Npower followed with an average rise of 8.8% for gas and 9.1% for electricity from November 26.

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Mr Carswell said: “People who have done the right thing in their lives, especially older people, are having to worry about their energy costs and I do not think that’s right. It ought to be possible that people should maintain their standard of living with their retirement.

“It is hurting already. People I know who are of modest means are already struggling because of petrol and a week’s shopping – they see prices are going up.”

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Barbara Williamson, chief executive of Colchester Pensioners’ Action Group, said: “How are we going to meet the bills? I hope people do not choose between bills and heat. Older people have illnesses, which means they have to have heat. It is very worrying.

“I do not know how people are going to cope with it,” she added.

Npower said the price rises were down to factors outside of their control

Paul Massara, Npower’s chief commercial officer, said: “There is never a good time to increase energy bills, particularly when so many people are working hard to make ends meet.

“But the costs of new statutory schemes, increases in distribution charges and the price of gas for the coming winter are all being driven up by external factors, for example Government policy. Although we have managed to smooth out the worst fluctuations and protect our customers for as long as we can, we are now having to pass on some of these costs.”

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