Thursday, 24 October 2013

Energy bills have more than doubled

A typical dual fuel gas and electricity bill was £610 a year in 2004.

That figure has now risen to £1,320 -- and more than £1,400 for many after the latest round of price increases, including Scottish Power today.

Of that the so-called green levies account for about £112.

So bills have doubled in less than a decade, even if you lop off the green levies.

The £112 is set to rise to £194 in 2020.

It includes £47 from the ECO -- the obligation on suppliers to insulate some people's homes and renew their boilers -- and £11 from the Warm Home Discount, a scheme to reduce bills for low income customers.

See this from DECC on page 78 for the breakdown of the green charges which David Cameron says he is going to roll back.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Cameron moving on energy

What David Cameron actually said at Prime Minister's Questions today on energy prices:

I do believe in intervening in the energy market that is why we are legislating to put customers on the lowest tariffs.

Bills in this country have reached an unacceptable level and we need to take action on that. We need to help people to pay their bills and we need to help people to get their bills down.

We need to roll back some of the green regulations and charges. There are the wholesale prices which are beyond our control, there are the costs of transmission and the grid, which are difficult to change, there are the profits of the energy companies and there are the green regulations.

And it is those last two that we need to get to grips with.

We will be having a proper competition test carried out over the next year to get to the bottom of whether this market can be more competitive. I want more companies, I want better regulation, I want better deals for consumers. But yes we also need to roll back the green charges.

We want a more competitive market. We need an annual audit of competition to make this market more competitive.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Co-op loses most of its bank

The chief executive of the Co-operative Group, Euan Sutherland, has confirmed that the mutual organisation will lose overall control of the Co-operative Bank as a result of a rescue deal.

The Co-op has been negotiating with big investors, led by US hedge funds, to provide extra capital for its bank, without having to turn to the taxpayer for a bail out or leave small investors nursing serious losses.

It hatched a plan in June under which it would retain control, but the hedge funds have stood in the way, seeking to take ownership of Cooperative Bank themselves.

Today Mr Sutherland conceded in a statement that the Group would be left with just 30 per cent of the bank, though he argued that he would keep "effective control" because no other shareholder would own a larger stake.

He said there was agreement in principle on the deal and more details would be released in the coming days.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Petrol down, gas up

It's a puzzle for anyone used to seeing prices for the various types of energy we use moving backwards or forwards hand in hand.

The cost of filling up the car accelerated ahead but now it's gone into reverse. Well, slightly, by 5 and a half pence a litre.

But the gas price bubble just seems to grow bigger and bigger. More than 8% bigger with British Gas's latest price increase.

One explanation is that petrol prices are affected by movements in the dollar/pound exchange rate, because crude oil and refined petrol are both priced in dollars.

The pound has enjoyed a significant recovery against the dollar in recent months, jumping from about $1.50 in value to around $1.60.

So while crude oil hasn't moved much in world markets, the cost to us in the UK has gone down.

Gas, on the other hand, is traded in sterling in the UK. There is less of the currency effect.

Not everyone in the energy market believes there has been enough of a rise to justify the price increase.

But British Gas says the cost of getting hold of gas and electricity accounts for a third of the jump in bills.

Will the petrol drop compensate for the gas hike?

If you fill up the car once a week, you are likely to gain more than you lose.

However, occasional drivers will still have cause to shiver from this week's energy news.

The petrol benefit will be outweighed by the cost of keeping warm.

Some of your responses on twitter:

Shhh, don't say it out loud or they'll hike the petrol up too!

Lack of gas storage is a partial explanation.

Because warned the companies that would cap their charges, so they're all rushing to the counter now!
Basically, the reason is policies intro by that the coalition won't reverse.

Petrol Fuel Duty frozen and petrol co's don't need tens of billions of new investment in plant and distribution.

different raw materials. Duh.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Pension fraud crackdown

The National Crime Agency has closed down ten websites designed to to deceive members of the public into losing much of their pension savings.

It is the latest move in on ongoing effort to crack down on pension liberation fraud, under which savers and persuaded to hand over their pension pots in exchange for instant cash.

The transfer can result in significant losses and a substantial tax charge.

The government has warned against companies which prey on people in financial distress using hard-sell techniques.

In May the City of London Police raided a suspected organised crime gang believed to be cold-calling and text messaging pension holders across the UK.

The NCA said people trying to look at the websites will be redirected to a page on the Action Fraud website providing information on identifying and reporting pension liberation fraud.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Nearly £3 on the pension

The state pension is likely to increase by nearly £3 a week next April, in line with the latest figure for average price increases, announced today.

The rise would take the pension from £110.15 a week to more than £113 -- most likely £113.10.

The government has promised that pension increases will be governed by a triple lock, with the annual rise set according to the highest of September inflation, average earnings or 2.5 per cent.

The September Consumer Price Index rose by 2.7 per cent, so -- with earnings increases still very low -- it will be the rate used for the calculation, as long as the Chancellor doesn't change his mind.

Although the exact increase would be £2.97 taking the pension to £113.12, the government usually rounds the weekly pension figure to the nearest 5p, which implies a rise to £113.10.

Of course, if he chose to, George Osborne could round the number upwards and give pensioners a full £3 extra.

Carers Allowance and some disability benefits are also increased in line with September's CPI.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Green things in your energy bill

Government says that its energy and climate change policies account for 9% of the average 2013 gas and electricity bill, as of March this year.

The policies include support for renewables like wind power, insulating homes and carbon taxes.

The 9% is £112 out of the average bill estimated then at £1,267.

nPower puts the cost of "policy and regulation" at 15% of the bill, or £185 of £1,247 - rising to 22% or £329 by the end of the decade.

This includes 5% VAT, though: £57 this year.

Ofgem says environmental costs typically comprise about six per cent of an average household gas bill and 11 per cent of an average household electricity bill over the course of an entire year.

The total includes energy-saving, emissions reductions, other climate change policies and social programmes like the Warm Homes Discount.

British Gas says the typical 2012 dual fuel bill of £1,188 had £112 attributable to environmental and social policies, so just over 9%.

Taxes were £72 or 6%.

Here's what British Gas tells its customers: "government obligations and taxes" take 11% of gas bill and 20% of electricity bill.

Again, they add in VAT.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

RBS boss pledges change

The new chief executive of taxpayer-owned RBS, the New Zealander Ross McEwan, has pledged to transform customer service at the once-stricken bank and to pay back taxpayers who rescued it 5 years ago.

RBS had to be bailed out in the financial crisis. During its painful rehab period it has faced a series of embarrassments including involvement in mis-selling scandals and last year's breakdown of cash machines and payment systems.

On the day he replaced Stephen Hester at the helm of the bank, Mr McEwan told RBS staff:

"We are just too difficult to deal with in too many situations. I've seen that in the retail bank where the systems and lack of training and development have really hindered. We need to take those barriers away so we can start to serve out customers well."

"Five years ago the people of the UK put their hands in their pockets through the government to save us. We should never forget that obligation. That means that we have a higher standard that we have to live by than any other bank in the UK."

"We need to be part of the recovery and we need to repay the taxpayers for their faith in this organisation. They have massive expectations. So the grizzling and the problems that we see that they through at us are actually their frustrations with us. They are the frustrations that we haven't paid the money back, that we haven't done a good enough job for them as customers."