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Energy secretary promises ‘muscular’ action against energy companies

Energy secretary Greg Clark today vowed to take ‘decisive’ action against energy companies who have increased their standard domestic energy tariffs in recent months. But he also admitted that the imminent election would have an impact on the government plans. Speaking to MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee this morning, Clark promised ‘muscular’ action against firms’ ‘damaging’ price rises. He claimed that firms had ‘milked’ loyal customers by increasing standard gas and electricity tariffs, but added that the date for ‘decisive’ action had to be reviewed because of the election. Several of the biggest energy companies have all announced gas and electricity price increases in 2017. Some have increased their prices more than once. All the price increases tend to affect ‘standard tariff’ customers, who rarely switch suppliers in search of a better deal. Energy secretary Clark said that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had recently identified an average of a £1.4bn detriment for customers on standard tariffs in recent years. He said that the market clearly wasn’t working for customers on default tariffs and said that the government would act “very shortly” to address the issue. The timetable for action is unclear with Clark stopping short of announcing any action before the snap general election in June. He said: “When you have an election that is called, there is a number of things that are in the final stages of preparation that you need to reflect on whether they can be finalised in time. That is something, to be candid with the committee, that we are reviewing.” Energy UK, a body which represents energy suppliers, said that government intervention would be bad for customers. Energy suppliers have previously blamed price rises on investment requirements, government demands (including the smart meter rollout) and the falling value of the pound.

Published by Utility Helpline on