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Why are gas prices so high and what is happening to fuel bills? Why are gas prices so high and what is happening to fuel bills?
(2 months later)
It's thought the government will offer financial help to companies threatened by soaring energy prices. The cost of gas on the wholesale markets is soaring again, placing renewed pressure on suppliers.
Fuel bills are also rising for millions of households - with further "significant" increases expected next year. It is also having an immediate impact on some businesses' energy bills.
What support could the government offer? Many thousands of households have seen energy prices rise. after their supplier went bust. Millions are set for a huge increase in prices in April when a new cap comes into force.
The government could provide loans worth hundreds of millions of pounds, with the Treasury said to be considering the proposals.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has been meeting representatives of firms which rely heavily on energy - like those producing steel, ceramics or paper.
Business leaders have warned that without help some firms could be forced to close because of the steep rise in prices.
Dr Richard Leese, chair of the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG) told the BBC that firms had put forward "practical and sensible" measures which would not put any burden on taxpayers.
The steel industry is particularly vulnerable to energy prices
How are energy prices affecting business?
Many companies face a considerable rise in their bills. That could mean they have to:
reduce or pause production - or even cease trading - which could cause job losses
pass their increased costs on to customers as higher prices
Energy-intensive industries are particularly exposed, but every company that has to pay energy bills - even if it's just to heat an office or shop - will be affected.
Why are gas prices so high?Why are gas prices so high?
There's been a worldwide squeeze on gas and energy supplies. There has been a worldwide squeeze on gas and energy supplies.
A cold winter in Europe last year put pressure on supplies and, as a result, stored gas levels are much lower than normal As a result, wholesale energy prices rose sharply and, in recent weeks, have hit their highest levels of 2021.
Reasons include:
A cold winter in Europe last year put pressure on supplies and, as a result, stored gas supplies were low
A relatively windless summer meant it was difficult to replenish those supplies
There's been increased demand from Asia - especially China - for liquefied natural gas.There's been increased demand from Asia - especially China - for liquefied natural gas.
This has helped push up wholesale gas prices across the world. Since January, they've risen 250%. There are a number of technical and geopolitical issues at play as well, which means many countries across Europe are grappling with the same problems.
Is the UK headed for a gas shortage this winter? However, the UK is hit relatively hard hit because it is one of Europe's biggest users of natural gas - 85% of homes use gas central heating, and it also generates a third of the country's electricity. Storage capacity in the UK is lower than in some other European countries.
What's happening to household gas bills?What's happening to household gas bills?
About 15 million households have seen their energy bills rise by 12% since the beginning of the month. About 15 million households saw their energy bills rise by 12% in October.
This is because the energy price cap has risen. This sets the maximum price suppliers in England, Wales and Scotland can charge domestic customers on a standard - or default - tariff.This is because the energy price cap has risen. This sets the maximum price suppliers in England, Wales and Scotland can charge domestic customers on a standard - or default - tariff.
Energy regulator, Ofgem said the cap will go up again in April, the next time it is reviewed. The cap will go up again in April, after a review by the regulator Ofgem. Industry predictions suggest it could go up by another 50%.
In Northern Ireland, there is a separate energy market with two suppliers. Prices also rise this month - by 21.8% (SSE) and 35% (Firmus). In Northern Ireland, there is a separate energy market with two suppliers, and prices have risen sharply for consumers here too.
Can I get a cheaper deal or fixed tariff?Can I get a cheaper deal or fixed tariff?
Usually, consumers are encouraged to shop around when energy bills rise.Usually, consumers are encouraged to shop around when energy bills rise.
But at the moment better offers - including fixed deals - are simply not available.But at the moment better offers - including fixed deals - are simply not available.
People already on fixed deals are advised to stay put.People already on fixed deals are advised to stay put.
Firms warn of price rises as energy bills soar Wrapping up to stay warm as energy bills rise
Gas prices: 'I'm just watching the meter go up'
How can I save money on my bills?How can I save money on my bills?
Instead of searching for a cheaper deal, householders are being encouraged to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.Instead of searching for a cheaper deal, householders are being encouraged to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
The Energy Saving Trust says that changes to our homes and habits could offset the current price rises.The Energy Saving Trust says that changes to our homes and habits could offset the current price rises.
How are energy prices affecting business?
Many companies face a considerable rise in their bills. That could mean they have to:
reduce or pause production - or even cease trading - which could cause job losses
pass their increased costs on to customers as higher prices
Energy-intensive industries are particularly exposed, but every company that has to pay energy bills - even if it is just to heat an office or shop - will be affected.
Across Europe, governments are asking energy-intensive commercial users to turn down factories in order to make savings and ease the knock-on impact.
Which suppliers are going bust?Which suppliers are going bust?
Since wholesale gas prices started to spike, a number of retail energy suppliers have collapsed. Since wholesale gas prices started to spike, more than 20 retail energy suppliers have collapsed.
They have been unable to pay higher prices for gas, or pass all of the increased costs on to customers.They have been unable to pay higher prices for gas, or pass all of the increased costs on to customers.
Enstroga, Igloo Energy and Symbio Energy were the latest energy suppliers to stop trading. These failed firms include Bulb Energy, with 1.7 million customers and which because of its size was put into "special administration", where it is run by the government, through Ofgem.
What can I do if my energy supplier goes bust?What can I do if my energy supplier goes bust?
Gas prices: 'I'm just watching the meter go up' Nearly four million customers have been affected.
Food firms face huge price rise for carbon dioxide
About 1.7 million customers have been affected.
Why is the UK affected particularly badly?
Gas prices are rising all across Europe, but there are extra reasons why the UK is hard hit:
The UK is one of Europe's biggest users of natural gas - 85% of homes use gas central heating, and it also generates a third of the country's electricity
Supplies of renewable energy are down because it's been the least windy summer since 1961 - over the last week, wind provided just 9% of power for England, Wales and Scotland
A recent fire at a National Grid site in Kent closed a power cable supplying electricity from France.