A trade body for the gas and electricity sector has refuted allegations that power suppliers are “unaffected” by the competitive pressure of energy price and customer service.
Energy UK hit back at the claims made by Which? today in an open letter to the Prime Minister, which has called the Government to launch an independent review into the rising cost of domestic energy bills.
The consumer group said there is “little evidence” of the Government’s efforts to create more competition among energy companies. It added the level of switching power suppliers “continues to decline”, with around 75% of people on the most expensive tariff.
Which? made the call after SSE, British Gas, npower and Scottish Power announced to raise their gas and electricity prices this winter. It has urged the Government to look at whether the reasons given for the price hikes are justified.
Angela Knight CBE (pictured), Chief Executive of Energy UK said: “We utterly refute these allegations from Which?. Rebuilding trust with customers is a priority and since the energy summit last year, suppliers have already contacted four million priority customers to offer help with insulation and over 10 million customers to explain the benefits of paying by Direct Debit, increased the debt threshold for switching supplier if you have a prepayment meter to £500 and reduced the number of different energy deals available to a handful of tariffs each plus a few special ones for particular interest groups.”
She added: “Energy companies are also working hard to help society’s poorest stay warm by spending over £275 million this year, helping 2 million people in a variety of ways including free insulation. Britain may have the cheapest gas and fourth-cheapest electricity prices in Western Europe but wholesale energy prices have been rising and now only represent half of a standard Energy Bill.”
DECC also dismissed the idea for an independent review saying energy bills “aren’t going to be helped with more enquiries or investigations that could take years to complete and implement”.
However, environmental group Friends of the Earth welcomed Which?’s call for the review.
Paul Steedman, the Senior Energy Campaigner said: “As consumers face another winter of rising prices and the Chancellor calls for a new dash for gas, a closer inspection of our energy bills is desperately needed. An independent review would show that wholesale gas prices have been the biggest driver of bill rises – not green measures.
“The Government’s Energy Bill reforms must get us off expensive gas and onto clean British renewable power – and cut costs by cutting energy waste.”