Big Six energy supplier SSE is to freeze household gas and electricity prices until January 2016, it announced today.


The group is also carrying out a "legal separation'' of its wholesale arm - which includes energy production and storage - from its retail division which sells energy to homes and businesses.


The announcements came as SSE said it is to cut 500 jobs as part of a cost-cutting programme.

The announcement comes as the energy sector prepares to face the result of a regulatory probe which is widely expected to result in it being referred for a full-scale two-year competition investigation.


It comes amid intense political pressure over soaring household bills at a time when real-term wages are still falling - and public anger over energy company profits.


The price freeze comes months after Labour's pledge that it would force suppliers to freeze domestic energy tariffs.

The Perth based firm says they’ve written to the major political party leaders calling for energy taxes to be taken out of bills and paid for through general taxation instead. This would make energy bills cheaper and protect those less able to pay.

Alistair Phillips-Davies, Chief Executive of SSE, said: "With today's announcements we're recognising that delivering the lowest possible energy prices for our customers has to be central to everything we do.

"We're responding to the questions that have been asked of us with a positive agenda for customers, including the longest ever unconditional energy price freeze. To help us achieve that, we're making sure our own house is in order by streamlining and simplifying our business.

"We're doing our bit but we don't want to stop at 2016. So today we're making clear once again that we wish to work with people to find more ways of taking costs out of energy bills and, more specifically, to make sure the cost of energy taxes is paid for fairly in a way that is proportionate to people's income and protects the vulnerable".

Meanwhile Citizens Advice Scotland has responded to SSE’s announcement today on bills and future policies. CAS spokeswoman Sarah Beattie-Smith says, “The price freeze will be welcome news for hard pressed consumers in Scotland, though more must be done by suppliers and Government to help the third of people who already struggle to heat their home. We also welcome the moves to separate the retail and wholesale business in the interest of increased transparency. This is an important first step in making the energy market more competitive and we hope the other big suppliers follow suit.”