Image of Conservative Party Conference 2016: Greg Clarke tears into energy giants for milking vulnerable customers
Conservative Party Conference 2016: Greg Clarke tears into energy giants for milking vulnerable customers
By STEVE HAWKES, Deputy Political Editor

'WE HAVE A DUTY TO ACT'

Greg Clark said ministers are drawing up plans to go even further than the regulators to stop people from paying too much

BUSINESS Secretary Greg Clark today paved the way for a range of new price controls on Britain’s Big Six energy giants by promising to stamp out a £2 billion power bills rip-off.

Vowing “we have a duty to act”, the senior Tory confirmed Ministers were drawing up plans to go beyond proposals unveiled by regulators in August summer to fix Britain’s Big Six.

Business Secretary Greg Clark at The Sun and Centrica breakfast fringe says the Conservative Party has a duty to act

Also on the panel were (L to R) Alex Neill from Which? Trevor Kavanagh from The Sun and Sarwjit Sambhi from British Gas

And he tore into the energy giants for milking their loyal elderly and vulnerable customers – claiming they are paying £300 a year more for their power because they’ve never switched.

Speaking at a Sun-backed fringe event at the Tory Conference, Mr Clark said: “We are troubled by what we hear. We intend to deal with this problem.”
It came as Tory backbencher John Penrose said companies such as British Gas were “failing the sniff test.”

Greg Clark said the most loyal customers have been the people who have lost out from the better value deals that were available

The Sun and Centrica fringe event was very popular with people interested to hear what the Business Secretary had to say

The Competition and Markets Authority earlier this year said the lack of competition in the energy market was costing consumers nearly £2 billion a year. And they proposed a price cap for customers on prepayment meters.

But the Sun last month revealed ministers were considering going further and introducing a range of price controls to protect millions more families.
Consumer Minister Margot James is looking at proposals that would force the Big Six to contact customers who have never switched for a decade – telling them cheaper deals are available.

Gas-tly rip off
Which? shows big six standard tariff energy bills soar over two years

ofgem gets a lec-off
Energy watchdog Ofgem gets electricity for its offices at HALF the price ordinary British families pay

The heat is on
MPs planning to slap radical price controls on Big Six energy firms

BILL WARNING
How your energy bill can almost DOUBLE if you don't switch when your deal ends

Power giants war
Prime Minister Theresa May turns on Big Six energy firms after hiring Centrica expert for policy team

And the Government is considering plans to slash the price hikes face by customers dumped on sky-high standard variable rates when cheap web-based one year deals come to an end.

Sarwijt Sambhi, head of UK Home Energy at British Gas-owner Centrica, warned that radical controls would hit investment and innovation.
But Mr Clark said the evidence for change was “indisputable”.

He said: “The CMA was very clear 70 per cent of the Big Six customers are on the high standard variable tariffs, including 45 per cent of the smallest businesses, they’re paying £300 a year more than others and they are more likely to be older and poorer than the people on the better deals.
He added: “There is an issue here that hangs over this sector and some others and it goes to the reputation that business has.

The audience heard the Government is considering plans to slash the price hikes faced by customers dumped on sky-high rates when cheap web-based one year deals come to an end

“It used to be the case that the best businesses had loyal customers and there was an understanding that it’s a valued relationship that would be rewarded.
“A troubling development is that the most loyal have been the people who have lost out from the better value deals that were available.

“We are troubled and intend to act to deal with this problem.
“The CMA suggested there was £2 billion-worth of detriment to ever customer that’s a big amount of money and we need to respond to that.
“We have a duty to act on it.”

Watchdog Which? warned the Big Six they were in “last chance saloon”.

Npower Fined £26m By Ofgem

The fine - for billing and complaint-handling failures - is the largest imposed by Ofgem on one of the big six energy companies