Here we go again. British Gas and npower's announcements on Friday that they are joining Scottish and Southern in raising energy prices means three of the Big Six suppliers have announced winter cost hikes before the clocks have even gone back. Expect the others to follow suit rapidly.
For cash-strapped small and medium-sized enterprises, rising energy bills are becoming a real headache – one recent survey even suggested that as many as 8 per cent of SMEs would be forced to close by a 25 per cent increase in costs. The Federation of Small Businesses says its members' electricity bills have risen 100 per cent over the past eight years, while their gas bills are up by 125 per cent.
Consumers are paying more too, of course, but there is at least some very stiff competition in the household sector. By contrast, SMEs find it much harder to shop around for savings between competing suppliers – chiefly because of the industry's anti-competitive practices.