Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, announced a 54 percent rise in the maximum allowed consumer energy price from April this year. But thousands – perhaps millions – of users across the country say their own bills have increased by far more, by at least double.
Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert founder, said this, “scarily”, was reasonable “for some people”.
He explained: “Those coming off cheap fixes, moving to expensive fixes, or who are in energy debt would expect to see their direct debit rise by more than the already hideous 54 percent increase in the energy price cap.”
But many customers in completely different scenarios report their own bills have increased by more than 54 percent, too.
Just shy of one-third (32 percent) of 536 Octopus Energy users polled by the website said their direct debit has at least doubled.
This is despite the fact they pay by fixed direct debit, were in credit with their supplier when their direct debit was increased and had stayed on the price cap.
Mr Lewis said the figure “smells wrong”.
He wrote: “While a higher direct debit doesn’t mean you pay more in the end – any overpayments are ultimately due to be repaid – it does mean far too much cash flowing from accounts now, which is often a nightmare amid the cost of living crisis.”
Octopus Energy has disputed the results of the polling.
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But Mr Lewis, in the case of doubt, informed customers how they can check the increase for themselves.
On his website, he advised: “If you’re in credit, have been on a standard variable (price-capped) tariff for six months or more, and your direct debit has gone up by far too much: submit an up-to-date meter reading first, then speak to your supplier and politely ask it to justify the rise.
“If it can’t, request that it is lowered. If it refuses, make a formal complaint and take it to the Energy Ombudsman.”
Ofgem has vowed to look into the claims, according to the Mirror.
A similar warning has been issued about British Energy.
The percentage of respondents to the Money Saving Expert survey who, despite being in the same condition, claimed their direct debit had at least doubled was slightly higher, at 33 percent.
A spokesperson from Octopus Energy told Express.co.uk: “[The Money Saving Expert] survey data dramatically overstates the real picture for Octopus. Based on around 500 self-selecting, self-reporting responses, their data is incorrect when compared to the actual data we hold on around 368,000 customers who fit their criteria.”
They added: “The crisis is real – energy customers are stressed by huge bill rises – but people need help, not misleading surveys.
“The survey data is wrong. For example, they claim 32 per cent of our customers saw direct debits double. The reality is that it’s 15 percent and therefore less than half of that.
“Bills are sky high due to the global gas crisis, exacerbated by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine – and we need an honest, open discussion to help government formulate the right policies to help people through it.”