Energy giants are lining up to land millions of customers with inflation-busting price rises before winter.
Suppliers are understood to be preparing to unleash hefty bill increases within weeks, adding to a “cost of living crisis” for many households.
British Gas, the UK’s biggest provider, is thought to be considering putting up gas and electricity prices by 8% – three times the rate of inflation – adding more than £100 to a typical dual-fuel annual bill.
The company may wait until early October, after the political conference season is over, to lessen the backlash.
It is desperate not to be the first to announce its increase and it may be one of its rivals – npower, E.ON, EDF Energy, Scottish Power or SSE – which breaks ranks first. When one company does move, it is likely others will follow suit.
British Gas said that it “never comments on future pricing movements”.
The threat of an increase will strike fear into millions of households who have suffered above-inflation rises in recent years.
Many now have to choose between heating or eating. British Gas could make an announcement before mid-November when its owner, Centrica, is due to give a trading update.
The company unveiled a 6% increase last November, taking its average dual-fuel bill to £1,232. In 2004, it stood at £543.
Suppliers are expected to blame the latest increases on a 10% jump in the wholesale cost of winter energy, green levies and distribution costs.
However, British Gas has seen profits rise by 3% in the first half of this year to make £356million.