Energy market must work ‘properly and quickly’

The UK energy market needs to be working properly and as quickly as possible to ensure customers see the benefits of lower prices. That’s the view of a price comparison […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

The UK energy market needs to be working properly and as quickly as possible to ensure customers see the benefits of lower prices.

That’s the view of a price comparison site uSwitch which has welcomed the Energy and Climate Change Committee’s report yesterday into  Big Six practices.

The Committee called for the ‘Big Six’ to report on how much electricity they buy or sell in an effort to increase transparency, competition and trust in the market. It also suggested Ofgem to take a more “proactive approach” towards suppliers and publish an annual report outlining the profits being made by companies.

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com said: “Many of the issues raised should be addressed by Ofgem’s Retail Market reforms and it is important that it is not diverted from this important task; the market needs to be working properly and as quickly as possible so that consumers can see the benefits in terms of lower prices and more competitive deals.

“The number of households shopping around and switching has fallen to an all-time low so it is vital that a strong measurement is put in place to ensure that Ofgem’s reforms are having the desired effect. If consumers are empowered then the number switching will increase, with the end result that suppliers will be forced to compete harder on costs, prices, products and services – this will be a win-win for consumers and for the industry as a whole.”

The Committee also said most consumers don’t know how to interpret their energy bills which puts them off at attempting to switch suppliers. However, the trade body for the energy sector defended the suppliers and said they have already made things simpler for customers.

An Energy UK spokesperson said: “Energy UK strongly supports an energy market in which consumers have the confidence that they can get the best deal from their energy company. Energy companies have already made tariffs simpler and easier to compare. They are much fewer in number and it is very simple to switch from one company to another.”

In response to the report’s call for Ofgem to publish an annual report outlining the profits being made by vertically integrated companies to increase transparency, Energy UK added: “Trust and transparency are both important and we understand people’s concerns at a time when household budgets are tight. The large vertically integrated suppliers already publish detailed accounts that show how much money they make in different parts of their business and the Government is taking steps in the Energy Bill to encourage liquidity in the wholesale market.”