Hard-pressed households hit with highest energy costs

Families in some of the poorest areas of the UK are being hit by large energy bills, according to a new study which found the cost of household gas and electricity can differ between regions by up to £92 a year.
Price comparison site Energyhelpline.com revealed that the typical annual energy bill in the UK is £1,325.
However, it’s research also showed that people in Merseyside and North Wales, areas where unemployment is the second-highest in the UK, are paying nearly £100 more than those in the east midlands and north Scotland (£1,373 compared to £1,281). The North West prices are also considerably more (£79) than those in the South East.
The second highest household energy prices are in the west midlands at £1,333 a year, according to the research, while London residents surprisingly pay some of the cheapest bills at £1,293 a year.
After north Scotland, the cheapest UK regions for gas and electricity are southern England (£1,294) and the South East (£1,294).
Energyhelpline said the research suggests that regional variations in prices are putting more strain on cash-strapped Britons who have been hit the hardest by the recession, and could “throw more people into fuel poverty”.
Director Mark Todd said: “Our latest quarterly price survey shows that there has been no let-up for those hit with the highest prices .”
“It is difficult to explain the reasoning behind these regional price variations other than the fact that regional suppliers charge what they think they can get away with. Often, loyal customers stick to the same regional suppliers rather than switching, meaning profit hotspots arise.”
He added: “We expect to see energy price increases later this year, so it will be interesting to see what impact this will have on the postcode lottery across the UK. It is likely that the gulf between energy prices will continue to grow.”