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Rise in gas prices could put elderly in jeopardy

PENSIONERS could suffer in the winter months after British Gas announced it would put up prices by as much as 12.4 per cent.

Age Concern Herefordshire and Worcestershire has revealed it is worried that older people will turn off their gas and electric in order to try to save money.

Their fears come after British Gas owner Centrica said its 10.7 million gas customers will be hit by a 12.4 per cent increase on September 4 while its 5.8 million electricity customers face a rise of 9.4 per cent.

Roger Davidson, trading manager for the local branch of Age Concern, said they would look around for the best deals to suit each individual.

He said: "The last thing we want is elderly folk not keeping warm because they are worried about the cost of gas and electric. A lot of older people are very loyal when it comes to staying with companies, and often they don't like to change. But, as with anyone, you have to shop around. We have a deal with Powergen, that offers three free hours of gas every day the temperature goes below freezing, but that won't necessarily be the best for everyone. We will do what we can to help."

British Gas blamed the soaring cost of the wholesale gas it buys to supply its customers which saw the firm make record losses of £143m in the first half of "its most difficult year".

The losses at British Gas cut Centrica's overall pre-tax profits from £894m to £569m in the six months to June 30.

British Gas managing director Mark Clare said: "We cannot continue running the company at a loss. We need to run a profitable business so that we can invest in bringing more gas into the UK, which will drive down wholesale prices in the longer term."

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