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Rising Number Of Brits 'Paying Over The Odds' For Energy

Oct 12, 2007
Those moving into new homes are coming under increased financial pressure to the tune of millions of pounds every year, new figures show.

In findings released by SimplySwitch, consumers entering newly built accommodation are unknowingly paying out some 15 million pounds per annum as a result of receiving their gas through privatised pipelines. According to the company this is due to property developers turning to independent gas transporters (IGT) to lay pipes. While such a move reduces initial connection charges for property firms, this in turn increases costs for homeowners which could consequently impact upon their ability to make utility bills and secured loan repayments.

Research from the company also showed that the majority (56 per cent) of those moving into a brand-new home are unaware of the higher costs that an IGT network can bring. Meanwhile, 96 per cent were not informed that they would be on such a set-up upon making the initial decision on whether to rent or purchase a property, "leaving them with no alternative but to pick up the additional costs long-term".

Karen Darby, founder of the price comparison website, said: "Three out of the big six suppliers are currently charging their customers more for receiving their gas through an IGT network. These charges are often hidden, resulting in a higher unit rate and/or a yearly supplemental charge."

Ms Darby also pointed to further findings from SimplySwitch showing that more than half (54 per cent) are unaware as to what main gas network they are on and often do not realise this until they switch utility supplier. As a result, she stated that homeowners are "effectively picking up the tab for the developer year-on-year" with the money the property developer initially saved by opting for an IGT "unlikely" to be passed on to them via reductions in rent rates or property prices.

The SimplySwitch founder added that this could impact upon consumers' attempts at money management as "at present we are facing a situation whereby consumers on the same street may be paying much higher rates for their gas because of where they live". In addition, Ms Darby stated that more people may face more pressure on their capacity to pay utility bills and personal loans, as energy regulatory Ofgem predicted that more than one million homes and businesses will be connected to an IGT network by next year. She asserted that this number could rise even further given prime minister Gordon Brown's pledge to build three million new homes by 2020.

"In addition, some suppliers have started to exclude IGT customers from certain new tariffs coming on to the market such as capped, fixed or online and the choice of payment methods is limited. In an era of soaring energy prices it seems unfair that an increasing number of people are paying over the odds and are not receiving the same benefits of competition and choice," Ms Darby reported.

As a result, those worried about how they will be able to handle their finances due to rising utility costs and other areas of costs should perhaps consider taking out a debt consolidation loan as a solution to monetary difficulties. Earlier this year, research by moneysupermarket showed that 12.7 million Britons have opted for a personal loan to aid reducing their debts into one low-rate monthly repayment. However, the price comparison website warned borrowers against getting into further debts, as two-thirds of people applying for such a loan will go on to get deeper in the red once more.
About the Author
Tom Dawson writes for Essentially Home Loans where visitors can apply for personal loans online, and also focuses on secured loans for UK residents. Visit Today: http://www.essentiallyhomeloans.co.uk
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