Gas and electricity bills set to remain high

Cheaper gas and electricity bills looked some way off despite the falling price of oil. Oil has slumped to less than half the highs seen in July, helping wholesale gas prices fall around 20 per cent since the record 100p a therm levels in the summer.

But gas bought by Britain's main energy suppliers like British Gas remains well above previous year's prices. Gas for delivery during the first quarter of next year - one of the benchmark industrial prices - was trading at 80p a therm. This is up two-thirds from the 48p figure seen last year.

Millions of UK households have been hit with two massive bill hikes this year thanks to soaring wholesale prices.

Dual fuel customers of British Gas, owned by Centrica, now pay an average of £1,317 a year - £404 more than at the beginning of the year. British Gas owner Centrica said there was little prospect of costs coming down while gas remained so much higher than previous levels.

A spokesman for the group said: "The falls from the absolute highs are welcome, but they are still running two-thirds higher than they were last winter which is the issue we are all facing."

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