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ScottishPower and npower are the latest energy suppliers to offer gas price cuts

5.4% (ScottishPower) and 5.2% (npower) is to be knocked off standard gas bills


More Big Six suppliers have announced that they will cut the price of gas within their standard tariffs. E.ON announced their 5.1% price cut, followed by SSE cutting 5.3% off their gas price, and now ScottishPower and npower are following suit with 5.4% (ScottishPower) and 5.2% (npower) cuts effective from 15th March and 28th March.

2016 price wars

Just one month in, and 2016 has already seen fierce competition between suppliers to top comparison tables by offering the cheapest fixed energy deal on the market.

On 20th January E.ON announced their gas price cut of 5.1% and also released a fixed price energy plan that was the cheapest the market had seen in nearly five years. This plan sparked a battle for the top spot of cheapest plan on the market, with smaller suppliers and the Big Six’s SSE and E.ON battling it out to better one another’s lowest fixed price for energy.

Usually, the cheapest fixed plans are offered by less established suppliers, but this new trend for Big Six suppliers to become involved in the race is an unexpected effort by larger suppliers to be more competitive. Supplier’s latest efforts with gas cuts however, whilst welcome, fall short of expectations for 10% reductions or more for both electricity and gas.

The problem with standard plans

With fixed deals commonly lasting for around 12 months, your gas and electricity rates will not go up or down for the duration of the plan. Although this sounds like a possibly bad idea in a situation where wholesale prices for both electricity and gas continue to fall, the plans still offer incomparable rates to standard energy plans — and they’ve now reached the lowest they’ve been in nearly five years.

In a market where the falls in wholesale costs are not reflected within standard energy plans, there is little reason to stay put on one.

Many consumers may have been on a fixed deal which expired, meaning they’d have been automatically rolled onto their supplier’s standard plan unless they switched again to another competitive fixed plan. Director of Consumer Policy, Ann Robinson, says:

“Instead of waiting around for token-gesture price cuts, big six standard plan customers should do their own price cut by switching to a cheaper fixed deal, saving more than £320 a year.”

  • Carl

    Will Uswitch renegotiate their collective plan before it ends in June?

  • Robert d Cartwright

    standard plans cost a lot more,you can have alerts.and change to a cheaper plans for not a cost,with most service firms.yours bob Cartwright.

  • Mary Gough

    i am on fixed Plan my price cant go up but i can and do move to a lower price so its a win win situation this topic gives the wrong idea making it look like you lose out if theres a price drop you dont you move to the cheaper plan

  • Mike

    I’m currently with EON on a fixed deal ending this month. Having done a price comparison since the release of EON’s new fixed price tariff I’m sorely tempted to renew with them but I would save more by switching to a smaller supplier. My real concern about doing that is that many of the new entrants seem to have billing/customer service problems and aren’t really a match for the big six. Any thoughts?

    • Andy

      Some of the smaller suppliers are out shining some of the big six for customer satisfaction – First Utility springs to mind. If you look at the recent satisfaction surveys you won’t find the big six in the top 10 – that’s got to say something hasn’t it?
      Whilst on the other hand some of the big six have been hauled over the coals for treating customers badly such as NPower who have recently been fined £26mil for treating customers badly…

      Therefore I wouldn’t worry about it… As for me, I’m with EON too and am looking to move, funny enough NPower seem to be the cheapest, hopefully they have learnt their lesson and I will take my chances :-)
      Also the discounted Nest product NPower is offering is also a tempting bonus for me.

      • Boz

        Views on any supplier reflect the service an individual customer receives. Npower has a poor reputation, yet we have been with them for over 2 years now on two fixed dual charge tariffs having renewed with them and have found the customer service satisfactory. When they indicate they intend to increase the direct debit, as they have done, a phone call and discussion has resulted in the monthly amount to be paid a sum agreed by us and them. I would point out though, they need challenging.

    • Martina

      My plan also expires with EON and was also thinking about switching to a smaller supplier but I found out that their standing charges were much higher when I compared with EON so enrolled with them again in a new tariff.

    • philb

      OVO provides an excellent customer service. Can’t fault it.

    • John Tebbs

      I am with Ovo and customer service is refreshingly good even when things go wrong when you most need service. I was with the industry at privatisation when Suppliers were saying its all the same electricty we will compete on service, what a let down by the big companies.

    • Jane

      I was with EON and found that staying with them but via USwitch will save me an estimated £700pa. Frustrating given that their own website and the renewal offer were going to increase the monthly amount!! I have the same account number and seamless transfer to the new tariff. Like you, I was worried about the customer service and also apparent ability of other providers to raise the monthly cost arbitrarily. I’ve found EON to be reasonable to talk to about pricing changes.

  • Jim McDonald

    The only “cost” of entering into a fixed price contract are the exit costs – some suppliers do not charge exit costs, so there are none – but I think EON does – so factor in the costs of that if/when you want to move again – and work out whether any new tariff you find covers the cost of those exit costs as well. The new EON fixed tariff seems to be very competitive at the moment – and in theory you should be able to move from your old one ending this month for no fee (because it is ending soon) – so presuming the new tariff is cheaper, then you’d start saving straight away – for 3 weeks of winter usage…..

  • Alan

    I have been with First Utility for only 5 months and already they have increased my monthly DD from £117 to £178. This seems incredible bearing in mind a decrease in energy prices and my use of gas and electric has not increased from that of last year of the same period. I am waiting their reply to as why tjis has happened, and will be looking to change supplier if my monthly DD does not improve in a reduction of price.

    • Michael Russell

      I agree that FIRST UTILITY should be AVOIDED like the plague, Like Alan they increased my monthly DD from
      £50.00/month to £102.0 per month. I am awaiting to change supplier’s despite their £30 exit charge per fuel.

  • Brian Charman

    The ‘hidden’ cost which nobody seems to mention ever is the cost of the fixed daily charge. My daily charge jumped from 18p per day to 25p per day to get a ‘cheap’ energy fix. The regulator should determine the ‘fixed’ cost to be ‘x’ for ALL companies. Only then will we ever get a comparison because the charge for gas will be the only way to see what other companies charge. How can a meter be more expensive in different areas? A meter made by a company in Manchester can attract different charges in London, Cornwall, Yorkshire or anywhere. WHY?

  • Vic Seddon

    Avoid First Utility. Their initial offer will be raised like anything. And their admin is hopeless. Changing a Direct Debit becomes a nightmare. Recently I spent 63 minutes on-hold and then the line cut off. They always respond to emails saying that a full reply will be made in a day or two. No – nothing after 4 months. I’ll escape at the first opportunity.

    • canalboat

      Vic, If you think that is bad try getting a refund when you finally rid yourself of this useless company. It took me 3 months to get £220 and the type of the excuses were ludicrous. Only when I wrote to the CEOd id anything happen

  • Wendy Leeds

    We are with EON and have a good cheap tariff with them making our bills under £700 per year well pleased with that also give good rewards too

  • Li Owens

    Hi .. One thing I have to say which Brian charman has highlighted is the “hidden cost” ?!!! Seriously ??? It’s not a hidden cost for one !! It’s a standing charge !! Standing charges are charged in a daily basis regardless of the amount of gas/electricity you use !! This is your line rental as it were , the cost of having the luxury of a supply in your property ! So before you have even turned on a light or popped your central heating on you get a charge , Some companies don’t charge this but the price per kWh is very high to compensate ,, Your meters are owned by national grid !! Not the energy company .. Even smart meters. They may be rolled out through an energy company in some cases but all are still owned by national grid !!the energy companies would be paying the national grid on your behalf for the use of the meter and for the luxury of the supply ! Don’t make the mistake of thinking its a hidden charge like Brian is making out because this is explained by any of the Uswitch agents and is also in the terms and conditions of any energy contract !! If you want to delv deeper into these charges and what they are for then do abit of research before buying into what some people say on here. Don’t be a sheep !! And in a final footnote first utility !!! 2nd in the Uswitch customer satisfaction survey , supplier of the year runner up 2015 and 2014 !! Says it all doesn’t it. Don’t be fooled by some very few cases where people have been “stung by higher direct debits ” The simple answer is .. On a fixed rate plan if you use more gas/electricity then you will pay for it and yes this will increase your direct debit .. Makes sense doesn’t it ??!! It’s the kWh price that is fixed !! Not your direct debit. Many people make this mistake because they don’t read or listen to what’s told to them !! Many cases of “bad customer service or price shocks ” experiences are simple misunderstandings or the lack of understanding of some people ,even though the situation is explained to them they still don’t want to understand. They just want to pay the initial direct debit amount regardless of how much energy they have used because they feel that’s all they have to pay !! WRONG ! You use it you pay for it !! Don’t slate an energy conpany because you didn’t listen or pay attention in the first place !
    There are many energy companies that have outstanding customer service and reviews ,first utility are one of them.

    ** I do not work for any of the energy companies or subsidiaries . This is my own opinion based on facts and personal experience **