Gas and electricity charges start to fall at last

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The Independent Online

Four of the big six energy firms announced cuts in charges this week. If the others haven't followed by the time you read this, they will surely do so early next week.

EDF Energy said it would cut its gas bills by 5 per cent from 7 February while British Gas reduced its standard domestic electricity bills by an average 5 per cent, from last Thursday.

SSE is cutting gas by 4.5 per cent from 26 March, although it works out as a price reduction of 3.8 per cent, taking the standing charge into account. Meanwhile Npower is cutting gas prices by 5 per cent from 1 February.

But the price cuts don't go far enough, said Paul Steedman of Friends of the Earth. "Customers won't be fooled. They know that even with this week's cuts their prices have soared within the last year."

Political pressure is growing on energy suppliers to cut charges further. Chris Huhne, Energy Secretary, said: "If suppliers do not reduce prices, consumers can send them a clear message by voting with their feet and taking their business elsewhere."

Adam Scorer of Consumer Focus pointed out: "Wholesale gas and electricity prices have been falling over the last year and this narrowing of costs must be reflected in consumer prices."

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