ENERGY bills are set to rocket again in October.
Analysts say average factures will hit £3,358 in October and then rise another £258 in January to £3,616.
That’s a £2,339 increase from last summer.
Our inbox and postbag has been full of messages from readers worried about how to heat their homes and pay for the rises.
Holly Mead lists key dates you need to know and answers your questions . . .
Q. WHY DO ENERGY FIRMS REPORT HUGE PROFITS?
ANGRY customers have asked why energy firms have been able to report soaring profits while they’re hiking household bills.
According to energy regulator Ofgem these profits “relate to oil and gas extraction, not energy supply”.
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An Ofgem spokesman said: “This area of energy businesses is not regulated by Ofgem and is a matter for Government.
“Suppliers of gas and electricity to homes are currently paying high wholesale prices and, in the main, are not the big energy companies that have been reporting high profits.”
Q. I’M ON SMART METER – WILL I GET THE REBATE?
YES. If you’re on a smart prepayment meter, the money will be credited directly to your meter.
This will happen in the first week of each month that it is being handed out.
The rebate should be applied automatically.
Q. WHY DON’T I QUALIFY FOR THE REBATE?
THOUSANDS of households will miss out on the £400 energy bill discount.
This is because the money is paid to the bill payer – so renters whose landlords pay their bills won’t get the cash.
Nor will those who live in park homes or sites where utilities are provided.
Those on prepayment meters will get their money in the form of a voucher, rather than automatically applied to their bill.
Q. WHAT IF I CAN’T AFFORD TO PAY MY ENERGY BILL?
A NUMBER of households are threatening not to pay their bills.
This is not advised.
Customers face debt collectors or having their gas and electricity supply cut off if they don’t pay their bills.
Suppliers can appoint agencies to enter your home and fit a prepayment meter.
If you are struggling to pay, contact your energy provider.
Contact your local council to see if there is help available through the Household Support Fund.
Q. IS THERE OTHER HELP I CAN GET INSTEAD?
MILLIONS of people qualify for extra help.
People on certain means-tested benefits including Crédit Universel are getting a £650 payment.
Those with disabilities will get £150, and low-income pensioners £300.
A number of energy firms offer grants through hardship funds.
Q. WHERE CAN I GET HELP?
They can offer guidance on grants you might be eligible for and help you speak to your supplier.
AUG 26: New price cap set, giving you a month to prepare for rise in bills
SEPT: People on certain benefits get £324 cost of living payment. 6million people with disabilities get one-off £150 grant
SEPT 30: Deadline to get £150 council tax rebate. If you’ve not got it by then, it will be taken off your bill.
OCT 1: New price cap set. Estimates say it will be £3,358
OCT: £400 energy bill discount starts. It will come off bills in six instalments: £66 in Oct & Nov and £67 Dec to Mar. Warm Home Discount payment of £150 starts.
NOV: Cold weather payments may begin. Apply if the temperature drops below 0°C for 7 days in a row. You can get £25 a day from Nov 1–Mar 31.
DÉC: Millions on state pension get winter fuel payment of up to £300
JAN: Energy bills to rise again. Estimates range from £3,616 to £3,850.
Fixed-rate tariffs ditched
ENERGY firms including British Gas and EDF have ditched decent fixed-rate tariffs as wholesale prices rocket.
Some firms had been offering competitive deals to existing customers to offer security as prices soar.
But with analysts from Cornwall Insight predicting typical factures will rise to £3,358 a year from October and £3,616 from January, some firms have pulled offers.
EDF pulled its Fix Total Service Jul24v6 tariff, priced at £3,050, which was available to all customers on the standard variable tariff.
De même, British Gas removed all its fixed tariffs from sale.
Un EDF spokesperson said: “In light of the volatility in the energy market, we have withdrawn the EDF customer exclusive tariffs we were offering.
“Please be assured that we’re doing all we can to support customers during the crisis, particularly those who are vulnerable.”
Frazer Scott, CEO of Energy Action Scotland, said of the changes: “The fixed deals are all much higher than the capped standard variable rate but the gamble is, will they compare favourably to the next capped rate?
"Aujourd'hui, if it is no more than 70 per cent above the price cap, it might be worth fixing, with rises expected in October and January. Beyond that it is more unclear . . . It’s a gamble.”
£13bn notes needed back
TIME is running out for households that still have £20 and £50 paper notes.
Le Bank of England is replacing them with polymer versions, which are more durable and difficult to counterfeit.
In eight weeks, the old-style notes will no longer be legal tender – so have a look around your home to see if you have any hidden away that you forgot about and deposit them before it is too late.
Its banking director Martin Kearsley said: “These banknotes are hidden away in the usual, and unusual, places people store cash at home.
“My advice is to take some time over the summer holidays and check if you’ve got any paper notes that you’ve been meaning to deposit and haven’t got round to it yet.”
You have until September 30 to deposit the soon-to-be-obsolete cash.
After this date, you will have to exchange notes at banks or the Post Office.
Alternativement, you can present them in person at the Bank of England itself, or send them.
The address is Dept Nex, Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, Londres, EC2R 8AH.