Call for review of energy bills
Published on 17 October 2012 11:30 AM
David Cameron has been urged by consumer body Which? to launch an urgent independent review into rising household energy bills.
Its executive director Richard Lloyd said the review should examine rising prices and the possibility of more effective competition between suppliers to help customers.
Mr Lloyd wrote to the Prime Minister after four of the so-called 'Big Six' suppliers raised their fuel bills, describing the market as 'broken'.
He said consumers are questioning whether the price for gas and electricity is fair, with firms blaming increased bills on wholesale price rises, despite the fact bills were not lowered when costs fell.
Other sources of blame for the increases include the costs of bringing in environmental and social policies, like subsidies for renewable power.
Mr Lloyd said an urgent independent expert study should examine the validity of reasons for recent price rises and pinpoint the reporting requirements demanded of energy firms on wholesale prices, and social and environmental costs.
'Average bills up 13% over last year'
Mr Lloyd said there is not much to show that the Government is matching its pledge for competitive energy companies with three quarters of customers on the most expensive tariff and the numbers changing suppliers falling.
The average bill is 13% higher since a Government energy summit a year ago, said Mr Lloyd.
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: 'Households facing rising energy bills this winter aren't going to be helped by more inquiries or investigations that could take years to complete and implement.
'We know what the problems are, we want to get on with tackling them now. We're focussing on action, not more words.
'The fact is reforms by Government and Ofgem, including electricity market reform through the forthcoming Energy Bill and Ofgem's ongoing Retail Market Review, offer the quickest way to boost consumer confidence in the energy market.'
Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint said: 'Which? are right to say that Britain's energy market is not working in the public interest.
'For too long energy companies have been able to get away with blaming wholesale prices when bills go up, but failing to pass on savings when wholesale prices fall.'
Copyright Press Association 2012