Homeowners may see direct debits for their energy bills increase before the next price cap increase

Direct charges for energy bills may rise before the next ceiling increase, it has emerged.

An Ofgem spokesman admitted it was possible, just hours before the chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng our due to meeting with executives of gas and electricity companies in Downing Street to push for solutions to the projected increase in bills over the winter.

Consultancy firm Cornwall Insight predicted bills are set to rise to around £3,582 in October, from £1,971 previously, before rising further in the new year.

Clients therefore believed they could have had at least a two-month cushion to prepare for the initial recovery.

However, the Ofgem spokesperson told Sky News: “Direct charges are usually charged in such a way that customers build up an appropriate credit in the warmer summer months when usage is lower, so that the amount they pay is evened out over the colder winter period when usage is higher.

“It is therefore possible for direct debits to increase forwards of a price cap increase, or even when a customer’s usage has remained constant.

“But consumers can ask for credit balances to be returned at any time and can contact their providers to change how the direct debit is allocated, so that, for example, they pay for exactly what they used that month and don’t build up a credit up front. about the winter.”

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Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has proposed scrapping the price cap and negotiating lower prices with energy bosses.

And Tory leadership candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss continue to face questions about what they will do to help struggling families, while Labor has called for a “loophole” in the oil and gas tax to be closed to collect more support money.

Consumer champion Martin Lewis also made similar calls, telling broadcasters: “I accept the point that Boris Johnson is running a zombie government and can’t do much, but the two candidates – one of whom will be our prime minister – they have to get together in the national interest to tell us a minimum of what they will do.”

‘Fear of millions’

Mr Brown, who has previously called on Tory leaders to put aside their differences and work on an emergency plan with Boris Johnson, has been joined in his talks by a boss at one of Britain’s biggest energy companies.

Philippe Commaret, managing director for customers at EDF, said: “We are calling on the government and the two Conservative candidates to work with industry so we can find a viable solution for those customers who need it most this winter.

“Customers need to know now that help is coming. Delaying a decision will cause anxiety for millions of people and discussions need to happen now.”

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A government spokesperson said: “We are engaging with the electricity sector to drive reform and to ensure the market delivers better outcomes for people across the UK.

“In the meantime, and as we announced in May, the Government continues to evaluate the extraordinary profits seen in certain parts of the electricity generation sector and the appropriate and proportionate steps to take.”

There has also been widespread anger this week at ShellBP and British Gas owner Centrica announces big financial results while households struggle.

Millions of UK homes are already in debt over their energy bills – with £1.3bn owed, even before bills are set to rise by more than 80%, according to analysts at Uswitch.

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