Thursday, September 16

British Gas to delay rise in direct debits for millions on standard tariffs over winter-but many could save £139/yr by switching

It’s important to note British Gas isn’t freezing prices, it’s only your monthly direct debit payment that will stay the same. That means if your current direct debit isn’t enough to cover your energy usage over the high-use winter period, you could end up with a big deficit when the freeze ends.

In fact, British Gas will hike its standard prices by £139/yr for a typical household from October – the most allowed under regulator Ofgem’s new price cap.

So while the direct debit freeze could offer some breathing space for those with financial troubles right now, you might just be racking up debt on your account. This could lead to much higher catch-up payments when the freeze ends. British Gas says it’ ll assess the market in February 2022 and decide how to adjust direct debits then (this is when the next price cap change is due to be announced).

What’s more, if you have accrued debt due to having your direct debit frozen, firms can stop you from switching until you’ve cleared the balance, which could cause difficulties, so it could be best to switch to a cheaper tariff now – you can use our Cheap Energy Club to do a whole of market comparison.

It’s also important to note that this scheme doesn’t help those who pay by cheque, or those on prepay meters (see our Cheap prepaid gas and electricity guide for ways to save).

I don’t want to freeze my direct debit – how can I opt out?

British Gas says if you’d rather not defer your direct debit increase, you can alter it through its app or by contacting the firm directly. If you don’t opt ​​out, your direct debit will automatically be frozen, so take action if you don’t want a higher bill in the future.

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