Energy bills rise by 22 per cent

Energy prices have risen by 22.7 per cent over 12 months in real terms, according to official statistics released.

The price hike between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 included 19.7 per cent real-terms increases in domestic electricity charges, 34.8 per cent for gas and 28.9 per cent for coal and smokeless fuel.

The Quarterly Energy Prices document published today showed the rate of overall increase in fuel prices has fallen since the previous publication in March, when it stood at 34.3 per cent.

The figures, compiled by the Office for National Statistics, showed the average standard credit electricity bill in 2008 was £405 - £22 up on the previous year. Average direct debit and prepayment bills increased by £27 to £376 and £23 to £424 respectively.

Meanwhile, the figures showed the average standard credit gas bill rose by £18 over average 2007 bills, to £570. Average direct debit bills increased by £28 to £525, and prepayment bills increased by £29 to £618.

Average electricity prices for industry, including the Climate Change Levy, increased in real terms by 35.3 per cent, industrial gas prices by 28.8 per cent and coal prices by 0.2 per cent in the year to the first quarter of 2009.

Conservative energy spokesman Charles Hendry said domestic gas bills doubled between 2004 and 2008.

"These figures show just how steep energy price rises have been," said Hendry. "High energy bills are a serious problem for families struggling with the consequences of Gordon Brown's recession.

"Labour has repeatedly promised action to bring bills down, but ministers have been totally ineffective. Additionally, because of the government's failure to secure investment in new generating plants, prices are likely to go up much further in the future."

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