Customers vent anger as British Gas hikes energy prices

British Gas has said it plans to raise the average price of energy by 9.2 percent
British Gas has said it plans to raise the average price of energy by 9.2 percent Photo: PA

British Gas has faced a barrage of criticism on social media after hosting an online Q&A session just hours after raising energy bills.

Angry customers took to Twitter to vent their anger in the pre-scheduled session with the firm's customer service director.

Hours before, the group announced a 9.2 percent hike in the average price of energy, kicking in on November 23.

The rise in electricity (10.4 percent) and gas (8.4 percent) tariffs will inflate the average dual-fuel bill to £1,444.

ITV News' Economics Editor Richard Edgar reports:

Read: Twitter users turn the heat on British Gas director

The group is the second of the 'big six' providers to announce price increases this month after SSE revealed that more than seven million customers will be hit with an 8.2 percent rise from November 15.

The move sees British Gas tear up a pledge made earlier this year to use an annual earnings windfall from the cold weather to keep a lid on tariffs.

Prime Minister David Cameron branded the announcement "disappointing" and urged unhappy consumers to switch suppliers for the best deal.

But Chancellor George Osborne dismissed Labour's pledge to freeze energy prices as a "gimmick" and said that only a stronger economy would help customers cope with rising bills.

He spoke to ITV News' Political Editor Tom Bradby from China where he is wrapping up a trade tour:

Regional variations in prices mean some customers will see their bills top £1,500 a year, with average prices rising by as much as 11.2 percent for some Scottish customers.

Those in London will suffer a 10.6 percent increase and households in Yorkshire will have a 10.5 percent lift.

Ian Peters, managing director of British Gas Residential Energy, said:

We haven't taken this decision lightly, but what's pushing up energy prices at the moment are costs that are not all directly under our control, such as the global price of energy, charges that we have to pay for using the national grid that delivers energy to the home, and the cost of the Government's social and environmental programmes.

– Ian Peters, british gas

Energy Secretary Mr Davey called into question his claim that the Government's energy company obligation (ECO) to help insulate homes were to blame.

He said: "I recently wrote to energy companies asking them to publish their costs of delivering the energy company obligation.

"Today's announcement shows why that's necessary, because British Gas's ECO numbers just don't add up when you look at what other energy companies are saying about their costs."

Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.com described the hike as "big" and "nasty," warning that millions more households would have to choose between "heating and eating" if others providers follow suit.

Read: How to save on bills through energy policies and tips