Energy supplier Robin Hood Energy has been accused of ‘taking from the poor to give to the rich’ after hiking its prices.
But directors of the company say they are doing exactly the opposite and are helping the most vulnerable, partially blaming Brexit for the rise.
Thousands of people nationwide have switched to the firm – which is owned by Nottingham City Council and says it is not-for-profit – after being attracted by its cheap rates.
But many have been left shocked after it announced it was putting up some tariffs, by much higher percentages than other suppliers.
An official statement on Robin Hood Energy’s website says its Evergreen credit tariff will go up by an average of 17 percent for dual fuel credit customers from April 22, as a “direct result of the increase in wholesale energy costs”.
But some customers have complained that their bills are going up by around 50 per cent.
Due to our announcement about our price increases we are receiving an extremely high volume of calls. Please bear with us at this busy time.
— Robin Hood Energy (@RobinHoodEnergy) March 21, 2017
Although the company offers a discount for residents in the Nottingham City Council area, it provides utilities nationally.
Terry King, who lives in Cottesmore, Rutland, who has been a Robin Hood Energy customer for around a year, contacted the Post after receiving a letter informing him that prices were going up.
He said: “I was paying 11.821p per unit during the day, and the Internal Switch system they offer online shows a new rate of 19.2783 – a 63 percent increase. When I queried this large increase I was told as an existing customer I could be offered 16.7872 – a 42 per cent increase.
“The impact of such large increases on customers is massive, however the state of the finances of the company and its owners, the council, are also concerning.”
Francesco Lari, chairman of UKIP Nottingham city branch, said: “Robin Hood took from the rich to give to the poor but it seems this company is doing the reverse – even the tariffs are increasing by 20 and more percent for the citizens of Nottingham.
“They will have a chance of switching over, but ultimately this is taking from the very same people the company was supposed to help.”
The company was launched by the council in September 2015 to rival the “Big Six” energy firms.
According to price comparison site uSwitch.com, EDF’s price rise of 8.4 percent for electricity customers and npower’s 9.8 percent price rise for dual fuel customers both come into effect this month.
Also this month, British Gas, E.ON and SSE’s price freezes are set to end, leading many to believe more price rises are to come, according to uSwitch.
uSwitch adds that many smaller suppliers including Octopus, Co-operative Energy, Bulb and Flow Energy, announced price rises ranging from 2.9 percent to 15 percent – still below Robin Hood Energy’s announced 17 percent hike.
Councillor Steve Battlemuch, a director of Robin Hood Energy
Financial documents for the company filed with Companies House made a loss of £2.5m in the financial year to March 2016.
But directors say this was largely down to set-up costs.
Labour councillor Steve Battlemuch, who represents Wollaton West on the city council and is a director for Robin Hood Energy.
He said there will be no increase for more than 80 per cent of customers as most are on fixed rate tariffs, as well as those on pre-pay meters, and only 17 per cent are on the variable rate that is going up.
Cllr Battlemuch added: “We have written to those people saying the price for that particular variable rate is going up, but we have said to those people it would be good for them to switch to the fixed rate and they would get a better price.
“In the last two days over 1,000 people have switched to a fixed rate.”
He said the increase in wholesale energy costs was largely due to Brexit and of the price of the pound dropping against the dollar.
The councillor admitted “it does seem a massive rise”, but said the price had previously been held for two years.
He urged anyone affected to contact the company to see if they can get transferred to a fixed rate deal.
“We are not out to make money to put into directors’ pockets or shareholders’ profits,” said Cllr Battlemuch.
“We are trying to keep prices down for the people.”
The company was set up with a commercial loan from the council and there is a trajectory to pay it back over a period of time, with terms discussed at full council, he added.
Archna Luthra, head of energy at price comparison website MoneySavingExpert.com, added: “Price hikes are coming thick and fast now but Robin Hood’s hike is an eye-watering 17 percent.
“Everyone should urgently do a five-minute comparison to see if they can save. If you’re on a standard tariff you’re likely being ripped off – our Cheap Energy Club shows that most with typical usage can save £300/ per year by moving to the cheapest deal.”
A spokeswoman for energy regulator Ofgem said there are more than 50 suppliers on the market, with some being more competitive than others and it is up to them to justify their increases to customers.
Robin Hood Energy provides utilities to Ebico customers and an Ebico spokesman said the Ebico Zero and Ebico Prepay tariffs have a price guarantee until December.