Both British Gas and ScottishPower have announced price hikes of up to 12% for their electricity and gas customers, leading to consumer anger and a determination to switch suppliers. A survey by uSwitch.com, an Internet price comparison service, suggested that close to 5% of British Gas’s customers made the move to an alternative supplier after the announcement of the hikes but before the increased rates had come into force. Many more are expected to leave the utility, which until the increases has supplied 12 million gas and 6 million electricity consumers.
It’s more difficult for ScottishPower customers to switch – Scottish Gas and npower have already announced price hikes, leaving little room for choice. Between them Scottish Gas and ScottishPower control nearly 70% of the Scottish electricity market, and close to 80% of the gas market.
The utilities blame the increases (which are the second to have been announced this year) on the increase in the price of wholesale gas, but consumer watchdogs suggest that the search for profits and the high salaries being paid to top management are the main culprits.