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Will the energy regulator’s plan make a difference?

Energy price pound

Ofgem, the energy regulator, has announced that a plan is on its way to tackle energy bills and relieve the burden on the most vulnerable energy customers in the UK. But will it be enough?

Today the energy regulator has outlined proposals to deliver a fairer, more competitive energy market that will help around two million customers on low incomes.

Update: 7 August 2018

This weekend, the government announced an independent review of energy costs.

The entire electricity supply chain will be under scrutiny as the independent review seeks to uncover ways of reducing costs and meet the government’s ambition of achieving the lowest energy bills in Europe while meeting climate targets.

The review, led by energy expert Professor Dieter Helm CBE, will build on commitments made in the Industrial Strategy Green Paper and include the role of innovative technologies like electric vehicles and artificial intelligence. Although a step in the right direction, the time for action on energy bills is now.

Our managing director of home products Alex Neill said: ‘It is right to look at how to keep costs down, but yet another review is going to be cold comfort to the millions overpaying on their energy bills right now.’

So far half a million people have backed our campaign for fair energy prices. We want to see urgent action from the government and regulator to tackle the lack of competition in the energy market and ensure all consumers get a good deal on their energy prices.

Ofgem’s plan

While the regulator has announced the plans to deliver a fairer energy market, it hasn’t yet published the full details.

The regulator has proposed a new ‘safeguard tariff’ specifically for vulnerable customers and it plans to hold a summit in July to consider which ‘safeguard’ tariff’ would be best. One option would be to increase the existing cap for four million households on prepayment meters to include those who receive the Warm Home Discount.

Some of you will recall that earlier this year we pressed for action from energy companies to tackle their often poor value standard variable tariffs. Today, the regulator noted that energy companies must do more to help customers who are stuck on these tariffs switch to a better deal. The regulator will announce reforms to improve energy switching services.

The regulator also announced a proposed cap for charges to install pre-payment meters under a warrant, and ban these charges altogether for the most vulnerable energy customers.

But, the plans announced today fall short of the Prime Minister’s aim to help 17 million families on those often poor value standard variable tariffs with an industry-wide price cap, as outlined in the Conservative’s manifesto. The policy to tackle energy bills with a price cap was also lacking from the Queen’s Speech on 21 June.

Energy bills

While we welcome the plans to help the most vulnerable as well as steps to make switching easier, will these plans go far enough to help the millions in the UK are overpaying for their energy?

We believe that any price cap intervention in the energy market should first consider our five test points before implementing:

1. It must not cause longer-term price increases
2. It must not remove incentives for providers to improve their service
3. It must not stifle innovation
4. It must lead to a truly competitive energy market
5. It must have clear criteria for bringing any cap to an end

Ofgem will be consulting on its proposals and we’ll be feeding in to this.

Do you think Ofgem’s planned interventions will be enough to deliver a fairer energy market that finally works for all consumers?

Comments
Guest
John Hole says:
6 July 2017

The main problem is rip off standing charges especially on prepayment meters. These charges should be scrapped so that if someone on benefits for example tops their meter up it should only countdown whilst using energy. At the moment especially after the recent intervention by ofgen making energy companies reduce the unit price ofgen gave the big companies the green light to slam some sky high standing charges on making most users much worse off overall.
What they should do is abolish standing charges on prepayment meters. This would prevent the scenario were the user has been frugal and finds the meter has consumed all their credit in standing charges and these people having to use a loan shark to get some money to put on their meter to avoid losing the contents of their freezer.

Guest

Thats a good comment John they can levy what they like including zero standing charges(but hit you elsewhere ) and your right, light user are hit the most due to OFGEN fiddling with the rules that helps big businesses .Of course maintenance comes into it but from what I could get , many of those companies HIDE the standing charges, they have doubled from previous years and can be 40p +/day. Other utilities are upfront in what you pay in rental like the telephone companies , you might not like it but at least you know what it is up front and you are paying for any repairs to the service and/or maintenance due to storms / vandals/ “official vandals ” local council digger digging up cables etc .

Guest

I can see your point, John, and it is valid in most cases I expect. But there are some electricity consumers for whom a daily standing charge and a relatively low unit price is a better deal. I think people should have the choice, and, as I said in a previous comment, there should be much more openness about the unit prices and standing charges available from different companies for a pre-payment tariff. I doubt if standing charges are ever a good idea on a gas supply account because of the long period each year when very little gas is consumed.

Guest

Just change to Utilita – they don’ t have standing charges on their prepayment tariff.

They DO have TWO tariff rates, so the cost per unit decreases after a certain threshold, but that’s still a lot nice than having a standing charge.

Guest

Well there you go , for all those that STILL dont believe me when I posted 3 days ago about the Donald wanting to take over the world in energy supply even though I get emails from the White-House its now plastered all over the International news websites visiting Poland,s Krasinski Square -Thursday July 6 he states that he intends to supply Poland with AMERICAN LNG -first saying “America loves Poland ” -OMG !! -low tech.commercial advertising -eager to expand partnership and guess what ? the old “energy security ” soundbite comes out –he will make sure Poland does not depend on a single supplier-IE-Russia calling it “destabilization ” and the clincher ? – maybe we will get your price up a little but thats OKAY -tough negotiations thats sounds like a certain UK Prime Minister coming back from Berlin saying – we have an agreement- no war. Now do posters believe me ??? . What he is telling them to do is pay MORE for their energy supply , does the penny drop ? the Donald to TM – energy negotiations – exactly the same words -who suffers – the poor , STILL dont believe me ? just look at US owned Ukraine whose poor are living in poverty and cold because they dont want Russian energy ( the US owners dont ) price rises many times over and the media in this country keeps stumm. I am only concerned with those having a hard time paying to stay alive but you still have got to admire the Donald – he is perfectly honest in his pure American self-interest its a pity that doesn’t apply here .

Guest

What is LNG?

Guest

Liquefied Natural Gas Ian -logistics- sea to Poland – Gazprom ? a few miles to Poland via a pipeline. Poland,s latest statement -quote-we want to be the European hub for US LNG —(please sir ? -pretty please “Your Highness ” grovel-grovel )

Guest
William Coleman says:
6 July 2017

Nationalise the lot thus stopping already rich shareholders leeching the rest of us. As usual it is the poorest subsidising those who are well off .