Gas and electricity prices in Britain have climbed twice as fast as the EU average

Gas and electricity prices in Britain have climbed twice as fast as the European Union average, according to new figures released on Wednesday.

Gas and electricity rose by 29.7% in the past year, compared with a 15% increase for the EU.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) statistics showed that German customers experienced a 12.2 percent price increase while their French counterparts saw their energy bills shoot up by 14 percent.

Chief executive of Government watchdog Consumer Focus Ed Mayo, said: “The UK energy consumer is being clobbered faster and harder than those in Europe.

“Other countries may be doing more to keep their prices down and we should learn from them. The UK has a relatively free market, but the freedom to cut prices in the early years now seems to be the freedom to raise prices with impunity.”

“Of course, those least able to afford it suffer most. The suppliers must offer their most vulnerable customers social tariffs and reduce prices generally at the earliest opportunity.”

Regulator Ofgems latest data suggests British gas bills are the cheapest in Europe, and electricity bills are at similar levels to the rest of the continent.

This does not take account of price rises which have taken place so far this year.

A spokesman for the Energy Retail Association said: “What the OECD”s figures fail to demonstrate is that British customers have enjoyed historically very low prices compared to Europe and indeed the rest of the world.”

“Primarily, this is due to us having our own vast reserves of natural gas in the North Sea and not being exposed to global prices in the same way as we are now.

“We are no longer an energy island. With increased demand from growing economies such as India and China, the prices we now pay for our energy are more vulnerable to fluctuations across the world.”

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