THE BUSINESS Secretary has ordered energy regulators to fast-track measures to “safeguard” millions from rip-off pricing – saying he doesn’t believe they need new powers to do so.
In a letter sent out after the Queen’s Speech, Greg Clark demanded Ofgem act to introduce the “price protection” on gas and electricity tariffs the government spelled out today.
Writing to Ofgem chief Dermot Nolan, the Cabinet Minister said: “Ofgem has powers available that would allow it to address the problems in the market that we now see.
“I am writing to you as the independent regulator to ask you to advise me on what action you intend to take in three respects.
“Safeguarding customers on the poorest value tariffs, ensuring that micro businesses are fairly treated, considering the future of standard variable tariffs.”
He added that while consultation may be required to change licence conditions, the Big Six should “acknowledge” the need for such changes – so they can be made quickly.
The blast came as MPs, energy watchdogs and analysts accused the government of watering down radical plans for an “absolute cap” on energy prices. In May Theresa May said Ofgem would set a price that would help 17million families each save £100.
But there was no mention of a “cap” in a Consumer Markets Bill proposed today. The Government instead said it would extend “price protection currently in place for some vulnerable energy customers to more of those on the poorest value tariffs”.
Critics said it may now take TWO YEARS before any form of price intervention after an apparent watering down of Theresa May’s absolute cap promise.
Lib Dem chief Tim Farron accused Theresa May of “betrayal”. He said: “No one can ever trust Theresa May again. The Prime Minister said that she would bring people’s bills down and today she was shown up.”
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Richard Lloyd, the former chief of consumer watchdog Which? added: “In the election the Tories, Labour and SNP all committed to cap unfair energy bills, so to see this kicked into the long grass yet again is a massive let down for consumers struggling to make ends meet and a gift to the big power companies.
“This has turned from a government supposedly keen to help those ‘just about managing’ to one that clearly isn’t managing to keep its promises to millions of people.”