Centrica, the largest British-based ‘Big Six’ member has warned that millions of households across the UK can expect their utility bills to rise over the coming months.

The energy giant has predicted that the escalating wholesale cost of gas will push up energy bills next winter. In the company’s interim statement Centrica said: “UK wholesale gas costs are around 15 percent higher for next winter than last, and non-commodity cost – which are also largely outside of our control – are expected to add a further £50 to the cost of supplying the average household this year. The trend for retail energy costs therefore remains upwards.”

The cost or running the average house has increased by over 70 percent over the last seven years, setting back families an average £1300 a year. A rate which is double the speed of inflation. Over the same period the cost of gas has tripled and the price of electricity has doubled.

The news of yet more rises on the horizon will be of grave concern for the majority of Britons who now consider energy bills as their primary financial worry, ahead of rent/mortgage payments and the cost of food.

Responding to the prospect of rising energy bills, Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said: “Cash-strapped consumers are being held hostage by the yo-yoing price of imported, dirty gas which added around £100 to electricity bills last year.

“The Government’s forthcoming Energy Bill must deliver affordable fuel by developing clean British energy and stopping heat leaking from our homes.

“There’s massive public support for a clean energy system – more than that 85 percent of people want the Government to boost renewable power and ditch dirty coal and gas.”