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The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) announced it now has the authority to take direct action against rogue power brokers and other organisations that mislead consumers to try and sell energy products or services.

Recent Ofgem research found that approximately one third of Britain’s small businesses have a negative view of energy brokers, believing they had not been upfront about the costs of their services.

Philip Cullum, Ofgem consumer partner, says, “It’s crucial for our economy that Britain’s small businesses get a fair deal in the energy market. Getting help from a broker can assist in keeping bills down, but business consumers need to feel confident that they know – and get – what they’re paying their broker for. Brokers could now face investigation by Ofgem if they fail to treat their business customers fairly. We’re pleased that Government recognised the value in Ofgem getting these powers, which should give better protection and confidence to businesses. This important addition to Ofgem’s regulatory toolkit complements the major changes we are making to the energy retail market for business and domestic consumers alike. The powers mean that Ofgem can investigate misleading marketing to businesses in the energy sector.”

Over the summer Ofgem established new standards of conduct requiring suppliers to treat small businesses fairly on billing, contract issues, and switching. Those in breach can be fined.

Ofgem reports it has also “been developing an industry-wide code of practice for brokers that market energy to businesses. This code will set out that brokers have to behave in a fair and transparent way to give businesses confidence when using their services.”

The regulator will publish the code for consultation in December 2013.

 

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