Ofgem price cap change sets sky high energy bills for winter

People will still feel the pain of high energy bills this winter as a new Ofgem price cap comes into force from 1 October 2023. 

Decreases in the unit costs of energy are offset by higher standing charges, the wider cost of living crisis harming people’s ability to pay high energy bills and a lack of financial support from the Government compared to last winter.

The latest Cornwall Insight predictions are that energy bills will increase from 1 January 2024 and stay high throughout the rest of next year.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, which is part of the Warm This Winter campaign, commented:

“From 1 October, all households in every part of the country will pay more on energy standing charges, more into the profits of energy firms and many are more in debt to their suppliers.

“Average energy bills are still almost double what they were three years ago and Government help for households, which was available last winter, has been axed. This means this winter will feel worse for many households.

“If Members of Parliament on the House of Commons Energy Security Committee can see problems households will face, why can’t the Government? The MPs’ recent report on tackling the energy bills crisis sets out sensible recommendations to help vulnerable households and Ministers need to implement these ideas immediately.”

Paying MORE on standing charges

  • Standing Charges are paid by customers every day they are connected to the grid – and they are a postcode lottery with customers in Merseyside and North Wales paying significantly more than those in London.
  • Compared to winter 2020/21, daily standing charges for gas are up 8% and for electricity up 119%. The cost of every unit of energy used is also significantly higher:
Daily standing charges and unit costs in pence. 

Based on what the average customer paid (on a standard variable tariff, paying by direct debit).

Ofgem Price Cap from 1 Oct 21 Ofgem Price Cap from 1 Aug 22 EPG Rate from 1 Oct 22 EPG Rate From 1 Jan 2023 EPG Rate From 1 April Ofgem Price Cap from 1 Jul 23 Ofgem Price Cap from 1 Oct 23
GAS UNIT (kwh) 4.07 7.37 9.9 9.84 10.3 7.51 6.89
GAS Standing Charge 26.12 27.22 28.49 28.49 29.11 29.11 29.62
ELECTRICITY UNIT 20.8 28.34 32.36 32.42 33.2 30.11 27.35
ELECTRICITY Standing Charge 24.88 45.34 46.36 46.36 52.97 52.97 53.37
Source: End Fuel Poverty Coalition records of Ofgem and BEIS/DESNZ data
  • Analysis of Ofgem data by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, suggests that customers on standard credit terms pay substantially more for their energy than those on direct debit – with gas standing charges 18% higher, electricity standing charges 13% higher and unit costs also c.5% higher:
Uplift from direct debit cost to Standard Credit cost for customers on the standard variable tariff. Ofgem Price Cap from 1 Oct 21 Ofgem Price Cap from 1 Aug 22 EPG Rate from 1 Oct 22 EPG Rate From 1 Jan 2023 EPG Rate From 1 April Ofgem Price Cap from 1 Jul 23 Ofgem Price Cap from 1 Oct 23
Gas Unit Uplift 3.44% 5.29% 7.58% 8.74% 0.00% 5.33% 5.22%
Gas Standing Charge Uplift 27.07% 17.56% 17.73% 17.73% 17.97% 17.97% 18.13%
Electricity Unit Uplift 5.34% 5.33% 7.97% 10.55% 0.00% 5.35% 5.27%
Electricity Standing Charge Uplift 18.53% 12.84% 13.03% 13.03% 12.35% 12.35% 12.48%
Source: End Fuel Poverty Coalition records of Ofgem and BEIS/DESNZ data

Paying MORE into profits of energy firms

  • Ofgem has changed the rules on energy firms profits. This means suppliers are likely to earn 2.4% profit on every average customer’s bill from 1 October – up from 1.9% currently.
  • These new arrangements include a fixed component and a percentage component on top of that, rather than the whole value being a larger percentage of the total bill. Experts from the Warm This Winter campaign calculate that customers will only pay less profit to energy firms than before if their bill is above a staggering £4,000 a year.
  • The Warm This Winter Tariff Watch report estimated that energy firms will rake in almost £2bn in profits over the next 12 months. In addition to the record profits already announced in 2023. 

Many people are MORE in debt to their energy firms

  • Figures from Ofgem revealed that almost 1.2m customers disconnected from their energy supply in the first three months of 2023, while the average household energy debt for homes not on a payment plan is £1,214 on electricity bills and £965 on gas bills. Figures from the Money Advice Trust suggest that this “bad debt” is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Customers on prepayment meters are especially hard hit by energy debt levels, with data secured under freedom of information requests by 38 Degrees showing that PPM customers are £1bn in debt on their meters, making them more likely to disconnect as their top up amounts are deducted to pay off their debts.
  • Citizens Advice data found that in the first 6 months of 2023, 7.8 million people have had to borrow money to cover their energy bills and 1.2 million children live in households which have had to go without heating, hot water and electricity. The charity has issued a warning that if the Government doesn’t step in, these numbers will rise this winter.
  • The Money Pensions Advice Service also found that nearly one in five buy now, pay later (BNPL) customers have used this payment method for essentials. Case study evidence from the Fuel Bank Foundation reveals that energy customers are also turning to high-interest payday loans to cover their energy costs.

Price cap history chart (source: End Fuel Poverty Coalition records using Ofgem, BEIS / DESNZ and Cornwall Insight data)

Cap change date Average annual household bill change (GBP) Average annual household energy bill (GBP) % change from last period YOY change Change from Pre-Energy Bill Crisis Change from Pre-Ukraine Invasion
01-Oct-20 -120 1042 -10.33% -11.62%    
01-Apr-21 96 1138 9.21%      
01-Oct-21 139 1277 12.21% 22.55% 22.55%  
01-Apr-22 693 1971 54.35%      
01-Oct-22* 129 2100 6.54% 64.45% 101.54% 64.45%
01-Apr-23* 400 2500 26.84%      
01-Jul-23 -426 2074 -17.04% 5.23% 99.04% 62.41%
01-Oct-23 -151 1,923 -7.28% -8.43% 84.55% 50.59%
01-Jan-24** 9.24 1,932 0.48% -7.99% 85.44% 51.31%
01-Apr-24 -64.55 1,868 -3.34% -25.29% 79.24% 46.26%
01-Jul-24 -45.6 1,822 -2.44% -12.15% 74.86% 42.69%
01-Oct-24 52.05 1,874 2.86% -2.54% 79.86% 46.76%

* Figures from 1 Oct 2022 include EPG and EBSS. Figures from 1 Apr 2023 include EPG. 

** Figures from 1 January 2024, the figures use a new “average household” usage calculation. Using the old estimates indicate even more significant increases throughout 2024.

Figures in italics taken from Cornwall Insight and are predictions.