Consumer association Test Achats is warning of “frightening” rates for gas and electricity in November, fearing that prices may increase to the extent that people won’t be able to afford to pay their bills.
The organisation, which closely monitors energy prices, said this month’s prices have exceeded October’s record-high levels, warning tariffs have almost doubled.
“Whoever took out a fixed contract for natural gas in October would pay around €1,800 per year, whereas in September the figure was around €1,255. Now we are at €2,500, which is a doubling in only two months,” Simon November from Test Achats said in a press release.
“If we add the network tariffs and taxes, we end up with an annual bill of more than €3,000, almost three times as much as two years ago,” he added.
Although the price for variable contracts is slightly less on average, a significant increase was recorded here too: from €1,900 in October to €2,240 in November.
Families renewing an expired electricity contract this month will face prices up to €780 higher for a fixed-rate contract, 33% more than the record level seen last month, and 135% more than in 2019, again, without adding network tariffs and levies.
Meanwhile, the association has reported that numerous suppliers have scrapped their fixed-rate offerings in full or in part.
In Flanders and Wallonia, there are around 20 fixed-rate plans on the market for electricity and only about ten for natural gas, half of what was offered a few months ago. In Brussels, only two fixed-rate plans remain on the market.
As a result of this dramatic increase in tariffs, the organisation is calling on the federal government to remove taxes and levies from the bill in order to better protect consumers against price shocks.
“The government should reduce VAT for a basic consumption in the short term, the measures taken so far are insufficient,” said Test Achat’s Simon November.
“For the longer term, we must finally get to work on a real tax shift on the electricity bill. It is up to the governments, federal and regional, to look again at how this bill can be reduced to its essentials: electricity and its transport,” he added.
Meanwhile, the organisation advises consumers who have an older fixed contract to not change suppliers for the time being.
“People whose contract expires will receive a new proposal from their supplier. That is the moment to skim the market and compare well. The prices are very expensive with each supplier, but it is in the consumer’s interest to look for the most advantageous contract for his profile.”
The organisation stressed that those who are looking for a new fixed-rate contract should avoid committing to the high prices standard set now. Those who do sign up for such a contract should follow the price trends closely.
Test Achats’ website has an Energy Guide function, helping consumers compare prices between energy suppliers.
Source: The Brussels Times