Seek advice on energy bills, consumers advised

News that energy bills could be going up across the board will worry some people, but the best response for consumers is to take advice on their situa…

News that energy bills could be going up across the board will worry some people, but the best response for consumers is to take advice on their situation, an expert has said.

Yvonne Goodwin, the managing director of Yvonne Goodwin Wealth Management, noted that anxiety has risen of late amid widespread speculation that a number of new hikes are on the way.

"With the recent cold snap we've had, yes people are concerned about it, because it is being talked about in the media," the expert noted.

However, she stated, the situation need not be worse for all consumers, citing the case of an elderly lady she knows who managed to get on a social tariff because of her circumstances and actually cut her fuel bill.

Ms Goodwin added: "I would encourage anyone to speak to their energy supplier and just find out what the particular case is in their circumstances, rather than worrying about it because it is being spoken about on the TV."

Worries about the cost of fuel have emerged since the announcement of price hikes by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), which revealed it will be implementing price rises of nine per cent for both gas and electricity from October.

Although customers can switch, a move by one supplier tends to be followed by its rivals over time, so the activities of the likes of British Gas, E.On and nPower will be watched closely.

While some people may be on low incomes and qualify for social tariffs and other help, some may find they are not quite able to do this and will suffer growing fuel poverty, defined as needing to spend over ten per cent of household income on energy bills.

For people who also have debts to pay off, this situation may be worse.

Speaking after the SSE announcement, director of energy at Consumer Focus Audrey Gallacher argued that the increase would be "a hard blow for consumers" at a time of recession and squeezed household budgets.

By Joe White

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