Martin Lewis issues urgent warning on energy bills – what you need to do NOW | The Sun

MARTIN Lewis has warned billpayers to check if they can save cash now with a fixed deal as energy prices have shot up.

Wholesale energy prices "have spiked over the last week" the money saving expert said.

This could prompt energy firms to pull its cheapest fixed deals, which let customers lock in lower prices for a set period of time.

Although these are generally higher than the current price capped tariffs, they could work out cheaper in the long term when it goes up again in October.

The energy price cap limits the unit price of energy and standing charge on standard variable tariffs.

More than 20 million households are currently on these default prices for gas and electric.

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The price cap currently limits the typical bill to £1,971 a year – though the exact amount you pay can vary depending on usage.

Ofgem, the energy regulator, expects the price cap could rise to around £2,800 a year in October, when the next twice-yearly review takes effect.

The energy price cap reflects wholesale energy costs which have rocketed in recent months because of global supply issues and the war in Ukraine.

Wholesale energy prices are not passed on to customers immediately, but the spike this week could push up the cost of fixed deals.

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Martin said on Twitter: "It's plausible energy firms will pull the cheapest existing customer fixes and replace with costlier [deals].

"If you are considering fixing, my best guess is go asap."

According to the latest calculations by Martin's Money Saving Expert, it could be worth switching if you can get a fixed deal that is no more than 35% higher than the current price cap.

It could be worth it too if you can get one that's no more than 40% more "if you very strongly value budgeting".

That's because the amount you pay can't change because you've fixed for a certain period of time.

On standard price-capped tariffs the amount you pay changes twice a year according to the price cap.

That could change in future as Ofgem has suggested reviewing the limit on bills four times a year to spread out rises more regularly.

The calculations are based on the current expected price cap rise of around £2,800 in October and then a 10% fall in April 2023.

But these are only estimates and this could still change between now and then.

Check for fixed deal offers

While fixing locks in lower prices before a rise, if prices fall you could be left locked in a deal paying more.

You'll also be paying more initially than the current price cap and then less when it rises this winter, but with the goal of saving cash overall, depending on how much the price cap rises by.

MSE said in its guide: "If in doubt though, there's nothing wrong with playing safe and sticking on the price cap."

You won't find any worthwhile fixes offered openly by energy firms right now, MSE said.

The cheapest fixed deals that may be worth switching to are being offered directly to existing customers, so it's worth keeping an eye out for messages from yours about any deals.

The experts also warned of high exit fees on some of the deals being offered, so check all the T&Cs before fixing so you know where you stand and if the deal is right for you.

MSE has a full guide to fixing which highlights six fixed deals it's aware of that could be worth moving to.

But be aware these deals are not available to all customers and can be pulled at any time.

As Martin believes the latest energy price spike might lead some energy firms to pull them, it's worth checking now.

Energy bill help if you're struggling

There are schemes offered by suppliers, local councils, charities and the government that could help.

If you're struggling with energy costs or other bills there are plenty of organisations where you can seek advice for free, including:

  • National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
  • Step Change – 0800 138 1111
  • Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060

You should speak to your energy supplier in the first instance as they have schemes in place to help with bills and arrears, including hardship funds and grants.

For example, British Gas and Octopus have set up funds worth up to £750 to help customers who are struggling with their bills.

Your local council may also be able to help with cash and grants if you are struggling with bills through the Household Support Scheme

You should also check that you're getting all the benefits you're entitled to.

Use an online benefits calculator to make sure you're not missing out on any extra cash.

Similarly, you can search for charity grants that help you pay for gas and electricity bills.

There's more help from the government on the way too, later in the year in the form of one-off cost of living payments worth as much as £1,500 depending on your circumstances.

Every household will get £400 off their energy bill this winter.

Those on Universal Credit and certain benefits will get a £650 one-off payment – with the first half hitting bank accounts within WEEKS.

Meanwhile a payment of £300 will go to pensioners and £150 extra is heading to those with certain disabilities too.

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The £300 is on top of the annual winter fuel payment where those getting the state pension can get between £100 and £300 to offset the cost of keeping their homes warm over the colder months.

Low income households can get a one-off £150 payment under the existing warm home discount scheme – applications open in the autumn.

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