Prior to Energy Secretary Ed Davey’s party conference, the advocacy group Which? issued a statement claiming new research shows “a huge variation in standing charges in consumers’ energy bills. “A standing charge is a fixed amount applied to your gas and electricity bill daily or annually. Our investigation looked at the range of gas, electricity and dual fuel deals on offer for a specific customer in one region of the country, so we could accurately compare all the tariffs and standing charges available to that customer. We found more than 109 different tariffs that included some 75 different standing charges.”
Ofgem’s current reforms to simplify the energy market enable companies to include a standing charge as well as a unit price in their tariffs.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd notes, “At a time when consumers are struggling with the cost of living, and rising energy bills are one of peoples’ biggest financial worries, the Energy Secretary must step in to make it easier for consumers to work out the cheapest deal.
“Ofgem’s current plans to reform energy tariffs do not go far enough to simplify the market for consumers. If the Government fails to take more radical action, people will not feel confident that they are paying a fair price for their energy.”
Angela Knight, chief executive of Energy UK, responded to the Which? statement by calling for patience. “The ink is still wet on Ofgem’s current reforms to simplify the energy market and surely they must be given a chance. The energy companies are doing everything that the regulator and their customers are asking for: simplifying tariffs while still providing choice and creating a straight forward way of comparing one tariff with another.
“This argument between Which? and Ofgem is about the difference between one simple way of comparing tariffs and another simple way of comparing tariffs. It puts the industry in the middle of a hokey kokey debate and the customer at the end not knowing what is happening. We may be entering the party conference season, but all sides should bury their differences in the interest of helping the customer with the changes that have been made and those that the authorities are requiring in the future.”
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