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‘Desperate Choices’ This Winter As Three More UK Energy Suppliers Toppled By Price Surge

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‘Desperate choices’ this winter as three more UK energy suppliers toppled by price surge

Households are facing “desperate choices” this winter, with energy bills rising by £30 a month for those who have had to switch supplier owing to a wave of energy company failures, as three more collapsed on Wednesday.

Rising gas prices have driven 12 energy companies under this year, forcing the regulator, Ofgem, to transfer 2m customer accounts to surviving suppliers. The collapse of a further three will force the regulator to move 233,000 more customer accounts, with bills expected to increase as a result.

Ofgem said Igloo Energy, Symbio Energy and Enstroga had become the latest companies to succumb to a gathering crisis that shows no sign of abating, with gas prices remaining stubbornly high amid international shortages as winter approaches.

The regulator emphasised that customers would not have any disruption to the supply of energy to their homes, adding that anyone with credit in their accounts with those companies would not lose their money.

But it will have to find a new provider for nearly a quarter of a million people through its “supplier of last resort” scheme, under which financially healthy companies take on customers from collapsed rivals.

Those that were on cheaper fixed-rate tariffs, often used by smaller, start-up energy companies to woo new customers, will see their bills increase to the government’s energy cap, which is £1,277 for a household with average usage.

A report by Citizens Advice has found that consumers who are moved to a new supplier typically pay £30 a month more than before. Advisers at the charity fear many will face fuel poverty this winter and could end up turning off their fridges and freezers, relying on hot-water bottles for warmth and requesting support to buy extra duvets and blankets.

Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Overnight price hikes will be a shock for more than a million households whose energy companies have gone bust. We’re particularly worried about those who’ll face desperate choices this winter because of the cumulative impact of soaring bills, the planned cut to universal credit and inflation.

“The government and Ofgem must guarantee that the warm home discount will be continued for people moving to new energy suppliers. People on the lowest incomes should be able to access emergency winter grants so they can stay warm in the cold months ahead.”

Earlier this week, Shell Energy took on 255,000 customers from a collapsed smaller rival, Green, while Octopus Energy has taken on 580,000 customers stranded when Avro Energy failed.

Before the latest collapses, announced on Wednesday, the number of households supplied by an energy company that had gone bust this year totalled almost 2m, forcing Ofgem into an unprecedented scramble to keep to the customer transfer system going.

Neil Lawrence, the director of retail at Ofgem, said: “We know this is a worrying time for many people and news of a supplier going out of business can be unsettling.

“I want to reassure customers of Enstroga, Igloo Energy and Symbio Energy that they do not need to worry. Under our safety net we’ll make sure your energy supplies continue. If you have credit on your Enstroga, Igloo Energy or Symbio Energy account, the funds you have paid in are protected and you will not lose the money that is owed to you.

“Ofgem will choose a new supplier for you, and while we are doing this our advice is to wait until we appoint a new supplier and do not switch in the meantime.

“You can rely on your energy supply as normal. We will update you when we have chosen a new supplier, who will then get in touch about your tariff. Any customer worried about paying their energy bill should contact their supplier to access the range of support that is available.”

Igloo Energy is the largest of the companies that went under on Wednesday, with 179,000 customers, followed by Symbio with 48,000 and Enstroga with 6,000.

Igloo blamed high gas prices and the government’s energy price cap, which it said was a good idea but had been “designed to favour the largest suppliers”.

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Business

New Naira Notes Ready For Issuance- CBN

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has said the newly redesigned Naira notes are already in banks and ready for issuance.

In a statement on its official twitter handle, the CBN quoted Emefiele to have made the disclosure in Daura, Katsina State, while on a visit to brief the president on the Naira redesign and the recently reintroduced cashless policy.

“The newly redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes are now in banks and ready for issuance to members of the public,” the statement said.

The CBN governor clarified that the currency redesign and reintroduced cashless policies were not targeted at anybody but were for the good and development of the Nigerian economy, and urged Nigerians to embrace the various electronic channels available for banking and financial service transactions in Nigeria.

Emefiele further said the CBN deferred the cashless policy severally to prepare and deepen Nigeria’s payments system infrastructure.

He, therefore, advised Nigerians to take their old N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes to the banks before the January 31, 2023 deadline.

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NIBSS Says e-Payment Transactions Hit N38.9trn In November

The Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) has revealed that transactions worth N38.9 trillion were performed electronically in November through the NIBSS Instant Payment platform (NIP).

This is the highest monthly transaction record on the platform.

Compared with the N34.5 trillion recorded in the preceding month, the November figure also shows a 12.7 per cent increase.

The latest data also shows that the November figure brought the total value of NIP deals in the last 11 months to N345 trillion.

Year on year, the e-payment value increased by 50 per cent compared with the N25.9 trillion recorded in November last year.

The value of the e-payment recorded was a reflection of the increase in the volume of deals within the month. The NIP volume rose to 492.2 million in November, showing a 53.8 per cent increase over the N319.9 million recorded in the same period last year.

The NIP is an account-number-based, online-real-time Inter-Bank payment solution developed in the year 2011 by NIBSS. It is the Nigerian financial industry’s preferred funds transfer platform that guarantees instant value to the beneficiary.

According to NIBSS, over the years, Nigerian banks have exposed NIP through their various channels, that is, internet banking, bank branch, Kiosks, mobile apps, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), POS, ATMs, etc. to their customers.

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Business

CBN Insists It Won’t Reverse New Withdrawal Policy

Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank, says there would be no reversal on the new cash withdrawal policy adding that the limitations was not intended to hurt anyone.

He disclosed this on Thursday following his visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina State.

The National Assembly had earlier faulted the CBN’s unveiling of revised cash withdrawal limits with a maximum of N100,000 for individuals and N500,000 for companies, claiming that it might worsen the current economic situation.

But while reacting to the objections from the National Assembly and the public outcry over the cash withdrawal policy, Emefiele said;

“And we think Nigeria, as the biggest economy in Africa, needs to leapfrog into the cashless economy.

“We cannot continue to allow a situation where over 85 per cent of the cash that is in circulation is outside the bank.

“More and more countries that are embracing digitisation have gone cashless,” he said.

He added that there would be no rigidity on the policy and no reversal, appealing to Nigerians to embrace the new policy.

According to the Governor of the CBN, the new naira notes have already been disbursed to the various commercial banks and expects that the banks would begin distribution to the public.

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