The higher rate of gas approved last week by Tynwald, 2.1p per unit, is already appearing on customers’ gas bills.
This development comes despite the fact that many MHKs had been under the impression (and it was mentioned during the debate over the vote to approve it) that the rise would not affect bills until January.
However, the Examiner has already seen bills from readers where the new rate is included alongside the old one.
Government support payments aimed at helping those in need to weather the price increase will also not arrive until January, leading to questions of whether people will be left out of pocket in the interim.
Manx Gas confirmed that any gas consumed since last Wednesday (October 20) has been charged at the higher rate.
Until January 21, people’s gas bills will be split between gas billed at the old rate, and that which is now being billed at the new rate. The increase is not retrospective.
Then from that date in January, everyone’s bills will have caught up to date and will consist only of gas bills charged at the new rate.
A spokesperson for the gas provider explained in detail to the Examiner: ’Manx Gas bills a proportion of its customer base every day: therefore the 2.1p per unit increase will be applied on a pro-rata basis starting from Wednesday, October 20, the day after the regulation was passed.
’So a customer who was billed on Wednesday, October 20 for their last 60 days of consumption (the day the increase took effect) would have paid 1/60th at the new rate and 59/60th at the old rate.
’A customer who was billed on Thursday, October 21 would pay 2/60th at the new rate and 58/60th at the old - and so on.
’Customers will have two lines on their bill with consumption at each rate.’
The statement continued: ’It will hit 50% (ie, 30/60th at the new rate, and 30/60th at the old on November 20.
’One hundred percent of billing at the new rate will hit all customers’ bills on December 21’.
’Treasury’s financial help scheme begins in January; however we would encourage any customers who are concerned about paying their bills to contact us on 644444 at the earliest opportunity, and we can discuss how best to help them in the interim (with affordability payment plans etc).’
Manx Gas also said that they would be donating ’a considerable sum of money’ to the Salvation Army and their Debt Advisory Service in November and the start of January.
Among the MHKs who were under the impression that the rise would not show up on bills until January were those for Castletown, Arbory and Malew, Dr Michelle Haywood and Jason Moorhouse.
The latter said that at the time of the vote ’it was clear from Manx Gas that local people would not see the increase in their bills until January’.
However, if the effects were to be felt sooner (as is now the case), Mr Moorhouse called for the Treasury support packages to be made available quicker than minister David Ashford had suggested in Tynwald.
He has submitted a question to Mr Ashford asking about this for the next sitting of Tynwald.
A government spokesperson commented, after getting input from the Treasury and Communications and Utilities Regulatory Authority: ’Those customers that are currently receiving their bills should only be getting charged the higher rate for the days since the increase.
’The vast majority of consumers will not see any significant increase until their next billing cycle in December/January, and eligible customers will be able to apply for Treasury support when it comes into effect from the beginning of January.
’This is when we expect the biggest changes to be seen, and we are working to implement the new scheme in time for this.’
The government statement continued: ’Eligible people already in receipt of income support or employed person’s allowance (EPA) will be paid the Winter Bonus automatically - they won’t need to make a separate claim for it.
’Anyone who is not in receipt of these benefits and who thinks they may be eligible for the Variable Rate Winter Bonus due to having a low income will need to make a claim to the Treasury in early January and their application will be processed as quickly as possible.
’More details will be available soon.
’Manx Gas have confirmed that they will be providing additional support and advice tailored to individual circumstances, and will be working directly with their customers facing difficulties this winter.’