Clearer and simpler energy bills needed, report saysEnergy companies, regulator criticised by MPs

29 July 2013

Energy bill

MPs have criticised energy companies and the energy regulator Ofgem in a report on energy prices, energy company profits and fuel poverty.

The report, by the House of Commons' Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECCC), found 'serious shortfalls' in the communication between energy companies and their customers about price rises which has caused 'deep mistrust' among consumers. 

It added that a lack of customers switching suppliers indicated that the energy companies were not being as competitive as they ought to be, and called upon Ofgem to ensure that energy bills are made clearer and easier to understand. 

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Concerns over rising energy prices

The latest data from the Which? Consumer Insight Tracker shows that the rising cost of fuel is consumers' biggest worry, with 78% saying they are concerned about energy bills going up.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: 'Hard-pressed consumers consistently tell us that the spiralling cost of their energy bills is one of their top financial concerns, with energy companies trusted by fewer than a quarter of their customers.

'People will not feel confident that they are paying a fair price for their energy unless prices are simplified and the costs that make up our energy bills are open, transparent and subject to robust scrutiny.

'The Government and regulator must do more to rebuild trust in the suppliers and to keep prices in check.'

Ofgem agreed that energy companies need to do more to improve transparency.

More help needed on fuel poverty, report says

The ECCC report also called upon the government to give more support to the millions of low-income households living in poorly insulated houses and struggling to cope with fuel prices.

Government spending on this area has been cut, and the report found that some fuel poverty support programmes were not currently active.

The committee urged the government to look at funding more programmes with direct taxation instead of levies on energy bills. 

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