Scottish and Southern follows suits

Scottish and Southern Energy have become the latest of the so-called big six energy providers to raise their prices. 5.2 consumers will be affected by a 11 percent average rise in electricity and a 18 percent hike in gas come September 14.

It means the average dual fuel bill will rise to £1,265, from £1,094. Mike O'Connor from Consumer Focus said: 'This increase heaps more pressure onto already cash-strapped consumers and will tip many thousands more people into fuel poverty.'

But unrepentant energy bosses claim their hands are tied by increases in the wholesale cost of gas and electricity. Ian Marchant, SSE chief executive, said: 'I am sorry that we have had to announce an increase in household energy prices at a time when many people's budgets are under strain, but the upward pressures on prices have become too great.

'We want to avoid another increase in household energy prices and they won't go up again, if they have to, before August next year at the earliest.'

Last week, Consumer Focus claimed five million UK households now spend more than 10% of their total income on energy bills, and the fuel watchdog estimates that the number of homes in this position will rise to nearly six and a half million households if all big six energy providers raise their prices.

'Currently consumers cannot tell whether these increases are justified and that stokes the lack of trust in energy firms,' Mr O'Connor continued.

'Suppliers point to rising wholesale costs. Yet although wholesale prices have risen recently, they remain around a third lower than their 2008 peak,' he added.

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