The Consumer Council says it fears more people will be driven into fuel poverty after firmus energy announced an increase of 38.18% from December 3, 2021 for gas customers in the Ten Towns area.
The increase will impactiaround 55,000 domestic customers living in Antrim, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Coleraine, Craigavon (including Lurgan and Portadown), Limavady, Derry-Londonderry, Newry and more than 25 other towns and villages in the surrounding areas.
According to the Consumer Council, the increase will see the yearly gas bill of a typical household with a credit meter rise by about £268 per year. Those customers with a prepayment gas meter (PAYG) costs will increase by around £255 per year.
Raymond Gormley, Head of Energy Policy at the Consumer Council said: “While the Utility Regulator forewarned that a price rise of this nature was coming because of exceptionally high global wholesale gas prices, it is going to be very challenging for many households to afford these costs.
“With the cost of energy continuing to increase, the Consumer Council is concerned about a potential rise in fuel poverty as some families may struggle to find the extra money they will now need to pay for heating.
“We welcome firmus energy’s commitment to assist some of our most vulnerable consumers with the introduction of a financial support scheme and we encourage other energy suppliers to have support measures in place to help those customers in need. This is of particular importance given wholesale prices look set to remain high for the foreseeable future.”
The Consumer Council’s website has a number of free resources including Switch On: A Guide for Home Energy Users, which helps consumers be more energy efficient at home, get the best from their electricity or gas supply, and save money.
firmus energy customers in Greater Belfast and in the gas to the West network area will not be impacted by this tariff change.
Consumers who are struggling with their energy bills or topping up their meter should contact their supplier directly for support. Consumers can also get in touch with the Consumer Council for free, independent advice by calling Freephone 0800 121 6022 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.