British Gas division would ramp up prices for electricity and gas
Britain\'s biggest domestic energy provider increased electricity and gas prices on Thursday, further stoking a political row over the high cost of living for millions of Britons.
Centrica said in a statement that its British Gas division
would ramp up prices for electricity and gas by 10.4 percent and 8.4 percent respectively. The move followed similar hikes by rival SSE last week.
SSE and British Gas are the first two of Britain\'s \'Big Six\' energy providers to raise prices ahead of Britain\'s winter, which is the peak demand season for energy.
London-listed Centrica, whose British Gas division supplies energy to 7.8 million households in Britain, blamed soaring costs of wholesale energy and of government energy efficiency schemes. It will lift prices with effect from November 23.
\"Today\'s announcement ... reflects the increasing cost of buying energy in global markets, delivering gas and electricity to the home, and the government\'s social and environmental programmes, which are paid for through customers\' bills,\" Centrica said in a statement.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who heads a Conservative-Liberal Democrat government, said in response that the British gas price rises were \"disappointing\" and urged consumers to switch their energy supplier.
London-listed Centrica added that the move would add about £2 ($3.2, 2.4 euros) to the weekly bill of customers taking both gas and electricity from British Gas.
Ed Miliband, leader of the main opposition Labour party, has vowed to freeze domestic energy prices for 20 months if he wins the next general election in mid-2015, as part of efforts to combat what he calls a \"cost of living crisis\" in Britain.
However, Conservative premier Cameron has condemned the promise as a \"gimmick\" that harked back to \"1970s-style socialism\", while some analysts argue that the policy could spark blackouts.
Britain\'s \'Big Six\' domestic energy suppliers comprise British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE.
The nation\'s market for domestic gas and electricity supplies was deregulated in the late 1990s, in a bid to encourage competition and drive down prices.