No price cuts yet for British Gas's low-income customers

Moves to cut prices for low-income British Gas customers collapsed in confusion last night as Ofgas, the industry watchdog, abandoned its announcement at the last minute. It means low-spending homes will have to wait for news of price reductions, while bills for most other customers will fall by 9 per cent from Monday. Chris Godsmark reports.

Ofgas had been planning to issue a press release yesterday afternoon which was expected to announce interim price cuts for around a million households with pre-payment meters. But the watchdog unexpectedly changed its mind yesterday evening, without explanation.

Sources close to Ofgas said some technical details about the statement had not been settled. But a spokesman said: "We cannot say anything until Monday. Something should be coming out then."

However a British Gas spokeswoman said the two sides were still negotiating, although Ofgas had been about to fax its press release to journalists. "Discussions have been going on since July and we're still talking. The Ofgas statement was just a skeleton. It's not a big shock horror problem."

The chaos means British Gas will push ahead with nationwide price reductions for 16 million of its 19 million residential customers on Monday, while charges for pre-payment meter households will remain frozen. A further two million homes paying through various budget plans will also have to wait longer to hear whether they will receive any reduction.

British Gas is knocking 9 per cent off bills for customers paying by direct debit, worth almost pounds 29 in annual savings, while homes settling bills promptly will see bills fall by 8 per cent. The reductions are largely the result of cuts in pipeline charges paid to Transco, the pipeline network which is now a separate business to the British Gas supply group.

There had been speculation that Ofgas would reveal price reductions for pre-payment customers of around 3 per cent, worth some pounds 7 off annual charges. The other 2 million low-income homes were expected to have to wait longer to hear whether they would get similar reductions.

The statement would have been seen as a partial victory for the Gas Consumers Council (GCC), which had campaigned to see the national price cuts implemented across all homes. Sue Slipman, the GCC's director, was perplexed about Ofgas's decision to abandon its statement.

"We were very much hoping there would be an announcement. We had been expecting one. We've got no idea why it hasn't been made," she said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine