Ed Miliband’s party is set to announce plans today to give regulator Ofgem greater powers to revoke energy licences, meaning suppliers would be unable to provide services in the UK if they break a set of consumer-focused rules.
“Too often energy companies seem to view the regulator’s fines as a cost of doing business – not as a warning to get their act together… If energy companies persist in mistreating their customers they must know their licence could be on the line,” shadow energy minister Caroline Flint will say today.
However, energy firms were nonplussed by the announcement, with one insider at a big six firm telling City A.M. “We’re not concerned, we already do a lot to focus on customer service and we’re always striving to do more, this won’t affect us. Ofgem already has these powers.”
Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats accused Labour of short-changing consumers. “The regulator already has the power to revoke an energy supplier’s licence and Lib Dems in government have given Ofgem additional powers for consumers to be directly compensated when there’s been wrongdoing. Consumers deserve long term solutions not temporary cons,” a Liberal Democrat source said.
Even Labour appears to accept the policy may be an empty threat. “It’s not for us to guess what companies would do in the event this power was ever used and obviously we hope it’s a sufficient deterrent so that it’s never needed to be used,” a Labour adviser said.