May pledges to tackle ‘rip-off’ firms as en­ergy bills capped

Daily Express - - News - By Mar­tyn Brown

THERESA May has vowed to pro­tect con­sumers from be­ing “ripped-off” by big busi­ness as a new en­ergy price cap comes into force to­day.

The cap will limit the amount paid for elec­tric­ity and gas by those on de­fault and stan­dard vari­able tar­iffs.

Reg­u­la­tor Ofgem be­lieves most will save £75 a year.

Over­charged

The an­nual £1,137 cap, set for a medium do­mes­tic dual-fuel cus­tomer pay­ing by di­rect debit, will re­main un­til 2020. How­ever, it could be kept un­til 2023 if the en­ergy mar­ket does not be­come com­pet­i­tive enough.

The Gov­ern­ment has pledged to slash the amount cus­tomers pay the Big Six sup­pli­ers by £1bil­lion a year.

The Prime Min­is­ter said: “Our en­ergy price cap will cut bills for mil­lions of fam­i­lies and peo­ple across the UK who have been ripped off by en­ergy com­pa­nies for far too long.

“But work to tackle this is­sue doesn’t stop there.

“We’re work­ing with reg­u­la­tors and in­dus­try to en­sure that con­sumers are not un­fairly over­charged in the fu­ture – whether on their phone bills or their in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums.”

The cap fol­lows a state­ment by the Com­pe­ti­tion and Mar­kets Au­thor­ity sug­gest­ing the in­sur­ance, mort­gage, mo­bile phone and broad­band mar­kets were set to be re­formed af­ter it found loyal cus­tomers are be­ing over­charged to the tune of £4bil­lion.

It was called in by Cit­i­zens Ad­vice, which ac­cused firms of billing ex­ist­ing cus­tomers more than new ones.

The watch­dog also found vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple, in­clud­ing the el­derly, may be more at risk of pay­ing the loy­alty penalty.

Ofgem chief ex­ec­u­tive Der­mot Nolan said: “Con­sumers can have con­fi­dence that any price rises in the fu­ture will only be down to gen­uine in­creases in en­ergy costs rather than sup­plier prof­i­teer­ing, while falls in en­ergy costs will al­ways be passed on to them.”

How­ever, con­sumer group Which? said cheaper en­ergy deals were van­ish­ing from the mar­ket ahead of the cap.

Ex­ploit­ing

Its anal­y­sis from De­cem­ber found just eight tar­iffs cost­ing un­der £1,000 a year – com­pared with 77 dual-fuel tar­iffs in Jan­uary.

Gil­lian Guy, Cit­i­zens Ad­vice chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: “This cap will put an end to sup­pli­ers ex­ploit­ing loyal cus­tomers.

“How­ever, while peo­ple on de­fault tar­iffs should now be pay­ing a fairer price for their en­ergy, they’ll still be bet­ter off if they shop around.”

Sav­ings on gas promised

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