Consumers are set to see their energy bills rocket after watchdog Ofgem said it was to increase a price cap on standard tariffs just six weeks after the measure was introduced.
The price cap for standard tariffs will be raised to £1,254 a year for someone with typical usage from 1 April - £34 more than companies were charging in December when the cap was originally brought in and adding £117 to the average bill.
Consumer groups hit out at the rise, which they said "conned consumers", who had believed the regulation would keep their energy bills steady.
Ofgem said that rising wholesale prices had prompted the move and said that suppliers would not profit.
Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch.com, said: “People could be forgiven for feeling that they’ve been completely and utterly conned by the Government’s energy price cap. Ofgem proudly proclaimed that the cap would cut bills by an average of £76 a year when it came into force at the beginning of January - but just weeks later, it’s announcing a jaw-dropping increase. It’s now crystal clear that households were never going to save what was promised.
Joe Malinowski, founder of energy price comparison website TheEnergyShop.com, said: “Anyone who thought that a cap was, well a cap, is in for a nasty shock. Not only have your energy bills gone up under the cap, but they are going to be £40 higher than before the cap came into effect. If that’s confusing, we sympathise.
“The energy price cap might have been a nice idea and worked for some, for a few weeks anyway. However, the reality is that government intervention can’t hold back the tide of volatile or rising energy bills."
The cap was introduced in December, meaning that bills were capped at £1,136 a year - saving 11 million households £75. ScottishPower direct debit customers on default deals were billed as being set to save the most at £121 per year.
Energy and clean growth minister, Claire Perry said: “As Ofgem has said, these increases reflect the sharp rise in gas and electricity costs. The cap is designed to ensure energy companies offer good value to their customers and continue to thrive as an efficient business.
“We were clear when we introduced the cap that prices can go up but also down. The key thing is that as a result of the cap, 11 million households on standard variable tariffs will be £75 to £100 better off and energy suppliers will no longer be able to rip off customers on poor value tariffs.”