Hikes: British Gas is increasing its prices by 35 per cent
Britain's biggest energy supplier is increasing gas prices by a record 35 per cent from today.
British Gas, which has 16million customers, is also putting up electricity by 9 per cent in the second round of price rises this year.
Customers with a dual fuel contract face an increase of 25 per cent, adding £262.80 a year to bills.
The decison comes days after rival EDF Energy also announced price rises and will trigger a series of similar moves by other suppliers.
As well as hitting households already suffering from soaring prices for petrol and food, the energy increases will push up costs for businesses and threaten thousands of jobs.
They are likely to wreck attempts by the Government and Bank of England to tame inflation and will fuel inflationary wage demands from workers suffering the biggest squeeze on the cost of living since the 1970s.
British Gas had already put up bills by 15 per cent in January.
This latest increase means the annual dual fuel bill will rise from nearly £913 in January to £1,317 today. The company said wholesale gas prices for the coming winter are up by 89 per cent on last year.
An estimated 4.5million households are already in fuel poverty, meaning they cannot afford to keep warm.
If the British Gas price increases are repeated across the industry, this could jump by one million.
Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, said: 'These price rises are a hammer blow for vulnerable groups, including thousands of pensioners, who have already seen their energy bills rocket far above the realm of affordability.
NWN: This is what comes from closing our coal mines , selling off our oil and gas reserves under Thatchers privatisation , and linking up more for this 'World economy' crap. Self sufficiency must be our watchword !