'Energy bills likely to hit £3,850 a year by January - £1,000 higher than expected'

Looming towards us now is the prospect of average energy bills reaching around £3,500 a year in October - increasing to £3,850 in January.

That's about £1,000 higher than the government expected when it set this level of help:

  • Households in Great Britain start to get £400 off electricity bills from October automatically and which they don’t need to pay back

  • There will be a £66 discount applied to bills in October and November

  • Then £67 a month from December to March

  • Most pre-payment meter customers will get vouchers sent via email, post or text in the first week of each month

  • People with “smart” pre-pay meters will get automatic top-ups

There’s concern that households will need more help to get through autumn and winter, but the government stresses this is only part of its £37 million cost-of-living support.

Other concerns are that there’s still no detail on an equivalent scheme for Northern Ireland.

There are also fears about the complexity of the voucher scheme for most pre-payment customers and concern that the texts and emails involved could be an open door for scams.

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The message is “no household should be asked for bank details” - so if that happens be alert.

Various government ministers and the Conservative leadership candidates have said there will be more help - but it seems any announcement will be delayed until we have a new prime minister - by which time we will be just weeks away from higher bills in October.

The precise level of new prices will be announced by Ofgem next month and we are expecting an update next week.