Ofgem vows to take “robust action” to tackle “unfair” direct debit rises

The regulator has pledged to take “robust enforcement” if claims over hiking charges prove correct

Ofgem has pledged to crack down on reported direct debit increases.

Addressing the Scottish Parliament’s Net Zero Committee, Neil Lawrence, Director of Retail at Ofgem, said: “This is troubling times for consumers and people are struggling to pay their bills.

“We were aware of a number of reports of direct debit increases and earlier this year, we announced a series of market compliance reviews, the first of which was the direct debit to review, how energy suppliers increase direct debits, are they fair?

“That is a very invasive review, so we are collecting a range of data, we are also looking at the management control frameworks.

“Direct debits can increase for a range of reasons, but rest assured where I find, where my colleagues find that suppliers have not treated customers fairly, we will take robust enforcement over that because customers need to receive a fair price for their energy.

“So we will take this very seriously. We are on it and I am looking forward to getting the results back from our compliance work.”

A few days ago, a report suggested an estimated 25% of customers reported had seen their energy direct debits double in recent months.

Earlier this month, energy firms were given a three-week deadline to justify these increases.

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