Households up and down the country already knew they were getting ripped off on their energy bills, but on Tuesday 7th July the independent Competition and Markets Authority confirmed it. Their report said that households have been overcharged by more than a billion pounds a year by the Big Six energy companies. Over the last four years the Labour Party has consistently fought for reforms to the energy market that would bring prices down. But over 5,000 families here in Bradford South are living in fuel poverty and the time has come to put that right.
As Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Caroline Flint said, “This report from the CMA makes clear that the energy market is broken and ordinary families are paying the price”. The Tories know that people are getting a bad deal, but won’t do anything about it. They have consistently voted against our motions in Parliament despite David Cameron promising when he was in opposition to get energy companies to pass on price falls, and promising to put people on the lowest tariff. Neither of those has happened.
In fact the only firm action that this Government has taken since coming into office is to write a letter to the Big Six energy companies asking for prices to be cut – but there have been no significant reductions in bills despite wholesale energy costs being at the lowest level for five years.
This independent report shows that year on year people are paying 5% more for their energy because the market isn’t working, and suggests one option would be to put a cap on the highest tariff while the market is fixed. The Government first said they’d consider it, then said they opposed it, then u-turned again, all within a day. This is not the clarity nor the action that hard-pressed families need.
The CMA report is important, but a report by itself will be of little use to the millions who are worried about heating their home this winter. We need to see the Government make the changes necessary in the energy market to stop people being ripped off. They might not want to take action for fear of admitting they were wrong. But consumers have an ally in the Labour party.