UK energy prices 'rise twice as fast as EU average'

Energy prices in Britain have risen twice as fast as the European Union average, according to new figures.

Gas and electricity rose by 29.7 per cent in the past year, compared with a 15 per cent increase for the EU.

The figures, released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), show bills are up just 14 per cent in France and 12.2 per cent in Germany.

Ed Mayo, chief executive of government watchdog Consumer Focus, said: "The UK energy consumer is being clobbered faster and harder than those in Europe. Other countries may be doing more to keep their prices down and we should learn from them. The UK has a relatively free market, but the freedom to cut prices in the early years now seems to be the freedom to raise prices with impunity.

"Of course, those least able to afford it suffer most. The suppliers must offer their most vulnerable customers social tariffs and reduce prices generally at the earliest opportunity."

The latest figures from regulator Ofgem suggest British householders benefit from the cheapest gas prices in Europe and electricity bills in line with the rest of the continent.

But those statistics do not take into account how prices have risen so far this year. According to JD Power, the average annual domestic gas bill rose 19 per cent from £466.44 in 2007 to £554.04 this year, while electricity bills for the same period increased by 7 per cent from £540.84 to £579.84.

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