The snow the UK has seen over the past two winters created massive disruption, but that is only one reason for hoping for a milder winter to come. With the cold weather, the UK economy faced threats of gas shortages, as households turned on their heating. However, despite the freezing temperatures, many households were forced to turn off their heating regularly, due to the excessive bills they would face. This trend is expected to be even more prevalent if the 2011/12 winter is as cold, as fuel tariffs are predicted to rise. The Bank of England has said that gas and electricity prices could rise this year by 15% and 10% respectively. British Gas’s Parent company, Centrica said:
“In the UK the forward wholesale prices of gas and power for delivery in winter 2011/12 are currently around 25% higher than prices last winter, with end-user prices yet to reflect this higher wholesale market price environment.”
These predictions might see the average UK household paying an extra £148 over the next year. Although these are only estimates, we are still very likely to see many households being forced to turn off their heating. One thing which therefore is certain: a warmer winter would be much appreciated!
Switch energy tariff to help beat bill rises Guardian, Miles Brignall (14/5/11)
Quarter of households predicted to turn off heating BBC News, Brian Milligan (14/5/11)
Power bills set to soar by 50% in four years Scotsman (14/5/11)
Domestic fuel bills poised to rise by up to £200 Financial Times, Elaine Moore (13/5/11)
- Which factors have contributed to rising energy prices? Illustrate these changes on a demand and supply diagram.
- To what extent do these higher prices contribute to rising inflation?
- What impact might these price rises have on (a) poverty and (b) real income distribution in the UK?
- Why are energy prices currently being investigated by Ofgem? What powers does the regulator have and what actions could be taken?