Strip Energy Firms of Power To Set Prices

20/11/2012

New nationwide poll reveals support for end to competition

 

As the Government outlines plans to simplify energy tariffs, new research by Populus suggests the proposals are unlikely to go far enough for consumers.

 

Three-quarters of people want to see energy companies stripped of the power to set prices entirely, preferring the energy regulator Ofgem to be responsible for fixing prices across the board.

 

This proposal – championed in particular by money saving expert Martin Lewis – was supported by 74% of consumers in an online poll conducted over the course of the weekend. If enacted, it would effectively bring the UK’s 20 year experiment with competition in the energy sector to an end.

 

The findings come as trust in energy companies appears to be in freefall. 31% of those surveyed said that they trust their energy supplier less today than they did just one year ago. This may be the result of recent allegations of price fixing within the industry. 67% of people are aware of these accusations and agree that they render them more likely to review what they’re paying through their energy bills.

 

In full, the research reveals:

 

  • 68% of people are worried about being able to heat their home because of increasing energy prices
  • 82% of people say that the energy regulator Ofgem isn’t doing enough to control the prices that energy companies set
  • 85% agree that the government should have greater powers to regulate energy companies, and
  • 74% agree that Ofgem, rather than individual companies, should be responsible for setting energy prices across the board.

 

Commenting on the research, Populus’s Managing Director Michael Simmonds said:

“Fuel bills are now one of the most important issues people talk about in our research, particularly with the recent allegations of price-fixing and January’s price hikes looming on the horizon. Our research suggests that people have now simply had enough of the current structure and want the Government and regulator to step in and take control.

 

“It seems unlikely that today’s announcement will go far enough for consumers who no longer trust energy companies to play fair. They want to see prices taken out of their hands entirely and put in the hands of an independent regulator who they will trust to give them a fair deal”.

 

Ends

 

Notes to editors

Populus surveyed 2,055 people online during the weekend of 16-18th November 2012.