Today Ofgem has announced the energy price cap will increase to £3,549 per year for dual fuel for an average household from 1 October 2022.
This comes as Ofgem’s CEO warns of the hardship energy prices will cause this winter and urges the incoming Prime Minister and new cabinet to provide an additional and urgent response to continued surging energy prices.
The new price cap level is based on a transparent methodology and calculations by Ofgem. The data is published here.
The increase reflects the continued rise in global wholesale gas prices, which began to surge as the world unlocked from the Covid pandemic and have been driven still higher to record levels by Russia slowly switching off gas supplies to Europe.
The price cap, as set out in law, puts a maximum per unit price on energy that reflects what it costs to buy energy on the wholesale market and supply it to our homes. It also sets a strict and modest profit rate that suppliers can make from domestic energy sales. However, unlike energy producers and extractors, most domestic suppliers are currently not making a profit.
The price cap protects against the so called ‘loyalty premium’ where customers who do not move suppliers or switch to better deals can end up paying far more than others. Ultimately, the price cap cannot be set below the true cost of buying and supplying energy to our homes and so the rising costs of energy are reflected in it.
Although Ofgem is not giving price cap projections for January because the market remains too volatile, the market for gas in Winter means that prices could get significantly worse through 2023.
Jonathan Brearley, CEO of Ofgem, said:
“We know the massive impact this price cap increase will have on households across Britain and the difficult decisions consumers will now have to make. I talk to customers regularly and I know that today’s news will be very worrying for many.
“The price of energy has reached record levels driven by an aggressive economic act by the Russian state. They have slowly and deliberately turned off the gas supplies to Europe causing harm to our households, businesses and wider economy. Ofgem has no choice but to reflect these cost increases in the price cap.
“The Government support package is delivering help right now, but it’s clear the new Prime Minister will need to act further to tackle the impact of the price rises that are coming in October and next year. We are working with ministers, consumer groups and industry on a set of options for the incoming Prime Minister that will require urgent action. The response will need to match the scale of the crisis we have before us. With the right support in place and with regulator, government, industry and consumers working together, we can find a way through this.”
Ofgem will continue to work with government, consumers groups, charities and suppliers, in supporting any new package of help or measures to ease the crisis.
Ofgem has also today strengthened the rules around direct debits to ensure suppliers set them at the right level, meaning that customers only pay exactly what they need to. The changes will stop suppliers from building up excessive customer credit balances and using them in a risky way as working capital.
Ofgem’s clear role is to protect consumers, and it has also today:
- Strengthened requirements for suppliers to have sufficient control over the key assets they use to run their businesses. Together, this and the direct debit rule changes build on existing requirements to boost supplier resilience to better protect customers from costs associated with supplier failures.
- Extended the Market Stabilisation Charge (MSC), which is paid by suppliers and helps protect customers from the cost of supplier failure.
- Extended the ban on acquisition only tariffs which ensures all energy tariffs are available to existing as well as new customers, ensuring all consumers can get a fair deal on their energy.
- Launched a review into the mechanism and level of profit margin available under the price cap to ensure that suppliers do not earn excessive profits and receive only a fair return for the services they provide to customers.
The new price cap level will take effect from 1 October 2022, but it is possible some suppliers may begin increasing direct debits before this date to spread costs. Customers worried about when their direct debit will increase should contact their supplier. Any money taken from customers to build up a credit will only ever be spent on their energy supply and customers can ask for their credit balance to be returned at any time.
Anyone worried about paying their bill should contact their supplier in the first instance. They are obliged to discuss payment plans and direct customers to government and third sector support where available. Ofgem is tightly monitoring suppliers’ performance in this area and has told all suppliers now is the time to step up their support for customers, especially those on low incomes or in a vulnerable situation.
Ofgem continues to monitor the impact of the price cap and to work with stakeholders and government on what more can be done for those least able to pay but most in need of energy. When the new Prime Minister announces what additional support packages will be available, Ofgem will continue to examine how best it can help those groups of people that need it the most.