Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark is seeking advice on the steps Ofgem will take to address “unfair practices” in the energy market.
He has written to Ofgem Chief Executive Dermot Nolan about bringing the damage caused by poor value standard variable tariffs to retail energy customers to a “rapid end”.
The government instead said it intends to extend the price protection currently in place for some vulnerable customers to more customers on the poorest value tariffs.
Mr Clark states: “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 and considering the future of standard variable tariffs.
“I understand that you may be required to consult formally on any proposed changes to licence conditions. I would be surprised and disappointed if the major energy companies did not acknowledge the need for such changes and be supportive of them and for them to be made quickly so there is common treatment across the industry.”
A spokesperson from Ofgem said: “We share the government’s concern that the energy market needs to work better for all consumers and that energy companies need to do more to help loyal consumers get a better deal.
“We have received the Secretary of State’s letter. We will shortly be setting out the work we have under way and further options we can explore in the light of the government’s plans.”