Gas and electricity Updated:
The energy regulator, Ofgem, has been heavily criticised by MPs over its lack of action in protecting consumers' interests.
A report by the Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECCC) found Ofgem had "been slow to respond to the need to improve transparency in the market", relating to three key review points previously outlined by the regulator to improve fairness and clarity in the energy sector:
• Reducing tariff complexity by limiting each supplier to offering no more than four core tariffs at any point in time.
• Providing customers with better and more relevant information including tools to help them navigate the market, and relevant prompts on what engaging in the market might be.
• Providing greater confidence that an energy supplier will treat their customers fairly by requiring each supplier to develop management and business systems and processes to embed the Standards of Conduct in all aspects of their engagement with their consumers.
Ofgem claimed that it had been quick to respond to instances of poor transparency where it had been identified and stated that it will take time for customers to realise the full benefits of past actions and planned actions in the near future.
Mark Todd, founder of energyhelpline, said: "Energy bills have more than doubled in just seven years, with suppliers continuing to profit whilst vulnerable households struggle with unaffordable energy costs.
"Despite its role as regulator, Ofgem is generally seen as a rather ineffective paper tiger. It creates lots of rules, but at the same time has presided over rocketing prices and millions of households falling into fuel poverty.
"This means that many households are fearful of turning on the heating fully when it gets really cold. Another hard winter is on the horizon with more price rises likely in the autumn. At that point average bills may break the £1,500 mark for the first time in UK history," he warned.
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