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Why your energy bill should be a top government priority

Millions more concerned about energy prices post-election, according to new Which? research

Couple worrying over an energy bill

UK consumers think that energy prices should be a top priority for the government, according to new Which? research.

In our survey of consumers*, more than half (56%) of people voted that energy prices should be a key focus for the government. Consumer concern about energy is growing, after 51% of people thought energy should be a top government priority when we last asked, in April. This rise is the equivalent of 3 million people.

As political party conference season approaches, and British Gas raised its electricity prices yesterday, Which? is calling on all parties to make tackling the broken energy market a priority.

Which? managing director of home products and services, Alex Neill, said: ‘Consumers are sick of the endless debate about energy prices and want action immediately. Our research shows this is an issue that affects almost everyone, with a growing number of younger people worrying about their energy bill. Ministers say they are prepared to act, so now is the time to urgently set out how they will make this broken market work for consumers.’

Don’t wait for the government; take action to cut your energy bills now. Use our independent energy comparison site, Which? Switch, to find a cheaper energy deal.

Energy and social care: top consumer concerns

More than half of all people surveyed (56%) thought energy prices should be a key priority for the government – up by five percentage points from April.

The highest growth was in the 25-to-34 age group, the group most likely to be first-time homebuyers, with the figure increasing by 14 percentage points (from 33% in April to 47% in September).

Consumers aged 45 to 54 see energy prices as the biggest issue, with 63% saying the government should make it a key priority, up from 54% before the election.

The research highlights the need for urgent action to address sky-high energy bills, which have risen by more than 40% for gas and 35% for electricity over the past 10 years.

Energy prices were the second-biggest priority for government, according to consumers, revealed in our online survey of 2,077 people in September 2017.*

The top priority is social care for older people. Seven in ten (68%) say it should be a priority. Financial fraud and scams are the third most popular topic that people think government should tackle. Four in ten voted them a top priority.

Worry about financial fraud and scams has increased the most since our last survey in April. Follow our tips to protect yourself from financial fraud online to stay safe.

Meanwhile, housing is less of a priority for the government now than it was in April, according to consumers.

But concern about energy prices increases with age, our research reveals. Two thirds (66%) of people aged over 65 voted energy among their top priorities, compared with 37% of those aged 18-24.

Check whether you’re eligible for a home energy grant this winter, or read our top 10 tips to save money on energy.

Pan on a lit gas hob

British Gas electricity price rise

Yesterday, British Gas announced that customers on its standard tariff will see the price they pay for electricity increase by 12.5%. It’s keeping gas prices the same, so if you buy both gas and electricity on its standard tariff, you’ll see an average increase of £76 (7.3%) in your bill over the next year.

British Gas was the last of the Big Six energy firms to raise its prices this year. Despite its increase, its standard tariff remains the cheapest of the Big Six firms’ standard tariffs, costing £1,120 per year (dual fuel, on average).

It will also pay more than 200,000 vulnerable customers £76 to offset the amount of the increase.

Utilita, which supplies predominantly prepayment-meter customers, announced it was reducing its energy prices by 1.8% on average for winter and promised not to increase them before April 2018.

*Populus, on behalf of Which?, surveyed 2,077 UK adults online between 9 and 10 September 2017. Data was weighted to be demographically representative of the UK population. Populus conducted a baseline survey of 2,130 people in April 2017.

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