The taxman says three and a half million people are due a refund, but two million will have to fork out for underpaid tax.
Osborne price plea to energy firms
British Gas has added an extra 80 pounds to its typical annual dual fuel bill
Chancellor George Osborne has urged energy firms to reconsider price rises that have sparked warnings of more households being plunged into a "long, cold winter".
Amid union and consumer group demands for Government action to tackle rising fuel prices, he said British Gas and Npower should make sure the hikes were the "absolute minimum" necessary.
British Gas announced an extra £80 on its typical annual dual fuel bill, with an average increase of 6% affecting 8.5 million customers from November 16. Npower followed with an average rise of 8.8% for gas and 9.1% for electricity. Both companies blamed rising costs largely outside their control.
With food and some mortgage costs also on an upward path, there were fears about how the elderly and hard-up will cope with the latest rises.
Mr Osborne, who is attending the IMF/World Bank conference in Japan, told ITV News yesterday that the Government had programmes to help people reduce their household energy costs.
"But of course I'm concerned when I see electricity bills going up and partly that is because of things beyond our control - what's happening in the world with oil prices and gas prices. We've also got to do everything we can in Britain to try and keep those bills down. I would urge those energy companies to look again at any increases to see if they are absolutely necessary at a time like this."
Asked if rising energy firm profits were excessive, he said: "I think these energy companies should make sure they're only adding to their bills the absolute minimum they need to add to continue investing in our energy supply and they're not going beyond that."
The pre-winter move from British Gas comes months after parent group Centrica posted a 23% rise in half-year profits at its residential arm to £345 million.
Unions and consumer groups attacked British Gas and called on the Government to take urgent action to tackle rising fuel prices. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "With winter approaching, low-waged people will now be terrified about how they are going to find another £80. Money from the poor is going to the pockets of Centrica shareholders. This is further shameful abuse by out of control, greedy fuel companies, sitting on piles of profit."
Consumer Focus recently said six million households in England were planning to cut back on heating this winter because of cost worries. It has encouraged customers "to do what they can" to cut bills by switching tariff, payment method and supplier.
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You will always pay the person that holds the gun.Lets take the gun away from them; lets put the services back into public hands…
I'm 64 and I shall use and do whatever it takes to keep warm and keep me alive. I will pay what I can afford and if they don't like it they can take me to court. I will also go to the media and Downing Street if necessary to highlight the plight of the elderly. Lets see how the government will like that!
*sigh*...Well, I'll be digging out the woolies and give them an airing, ready for heavy use this winter. I'll be counting my pennies out, wondering if I can stretch to investing in some thermal underwear as well...! I cannot believe that some companies are so arrogant in the face of a recession in this country, have the bloody nerve to hike prices up when they've been raking in filthy profits...BASTARDS!
The railways, Gas and Electric, Telecoms are all run by greedy corporations who care about profits more than they care about whether you can afford what are at the end of the day services vital to modern existence.
If ever there was a case for proving the power of State ownership, paid for by the people for the people this is it.
Resist the greed and individualism of the Right. Were all being conned by miserable privileged Capitalists. They are literally driving us back through time to the stone age.
Scumbags the lot of them. The lowest of the low. They hike the prices up, take massive bonuses, massive profits and leave us with paying more. Our wages don't go up but everything else does.
Renewable energy sources should have been in every household twenty years ago. But the cartels known as the energy companies have put a stop to that. Everyone needs hot water, electricity, gas, heating so we don't have any choice but to pay.
To all those people that struggle to make ends meet, I wish them well this winter. The UK is for the rich and not for the low incomers who suffer the most all of the time.
I believe it is fair to say briton haw become a place for low tax for the wealthy and higher tax for the working class
How is justifiable to make billions of pound profit and still raise the tariff of gas and electric and up the price of train travel, these are all service ordinary people use to continue servicing the country with tax.
We now go to work to make directors and multi national companies richer, while people like the PM think our children can have the same education he had on the minimum wage, taxations and high energy bills, we can fight wars all over the world and give overseas aid to wealthy countries but can't afford our own welfare bills, we need to get our own country in order in the name of fair play.
How can a company that has had massive profits be allowed by the Government to put up their prices especially just before Winter starts.
It's about time the Government did something about this. If this happens there are going to be more elderly and sick people dying through hyperthermia as they will not be able to heat their homes properly and buy food.
British Gas is a total ripoff. They are as bad as the banks.
I'm SO disgusted with the injustice of this I have just sent an email to Downing Street. Everyone who disagrees with what has happened should do the same. If enough people complain directly perhaps someone will eventually listen!
while old edna freezes to death in her little house
you can be certain some sections of society e.g. immigrants raking in handouts , prisoners playing on games consoles and politicians taking us all for mugs , will be sitting warm and comfortable at night
rip off britain !
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