Energy bills for 15 million households will increase by at least £139 to a record high from October due to a rise in wholesale prices, the UK’s energy regulator has announced.

Watchdog Ofgem said on Friday that energy customers on default tariffs paying by direct debit will see the sharpest jump in prices since the cap was introduced, taking average bills to £1,277.

Pre-payment customers will see costs rise by £153, from £1,156 to £,1309.The increase has been driven by a rise of more than 50% in energy costs over the last six months, with gas prices hitting a record high as inflation jumped amid the easing of pandemic restrictions, Ofgem said. Chief executive Jonathan Brearley said: “Higher energy bills are never welcome and the timing and size of this increase will be particularly difficult for many families still struggling with the impact of the pandemic. 

“The price cap means suppliers only pass on legitimate costs of supplying energy and cannot charge more than the level of the price cap, although they can charge less.

“If you’re struggling to pay your bill you can get in touch with your supplier to access the help that’s available and, if possible, shop around for a better deal.

“I appreciate this is extremely difficult news for many people. My commitment to customers is that Ofgem will continue to do everything we can to ensure they are protected this winter, especially those in vulnerable circumstances.”

  • January 1 2019 – £1,137
  • April 1 2019 – £1,254 (up £117)
  • October 1 2019 – £1,179 (down £75)
  • April 1 2020 – £1,126 (down £17, included new calculation of average use)
  • October 1 2020 – £1,042 (down £84)
  • April 1 2021 – £1,138 (up £96)
  • October 1 2021 – £1,277 (up £139)

Industry-watchers had expected Ofgem to hike the price cap by around £150 from its current level of £1,138 for an average household’s gas and electricity bills.