Citizens Advice Scotland has welcomed the news that OFGEM is to launch an investigation into the Big 6 fuel companies.
Sarah Beattie-Smith says,
“Today's announcement will be welcome news for consumers across Scotland who have been hammered with perpetual price rises whilst watching eye-watering profits continue to grow for suppliers.
“The lack of trust in the industry and the low levels of switching are clear signs that many consumers feel that there is very little competition and choice between the big six. And as they lack confidence that they have a real choice in the market, it's no wonder customer engagement is so low.
“We want to see real choice for consumers, particularly those on the lowest incomes and those without access to cheaper deals through direct debit or internet billing. For those on pre-payment meters, switching is often even harder, meaning consumers are stuck with high costs and little or no choice.
“Reform of this market is long overdue. We must now ensure that this investigation delivers for Scottish consumers.”
Notes to editors - click to expand/collapse
We want this competition investigation to look at:
- Whether the market is delivering for all consumers including those on prepayment meters
- Whether the structure and regulatory environment provides the optimum conditions for a well-functioning, competitive and customer focussed market.
- The causes and consequences of the lack of transparency in the market and the impact it is having on competition in the market.
- Whether households are paying a fair price.
- The impact of the complexity of the markets, from generation to tariff structure, both on competition and the customer.
- Barriers to new firms entering and thriving in the market.
Note on Transfer of Consumer Responsibilities
In April 2014 the UK Government will transfer responsibility for speaking out for consumers across post, energy and, in Scotland, water to Citizens Advice Scotland and Citizens Advice (England and Wales). Citizens Advice Scotland will also take on a Great Britain-wide helpline for complex energy or post complaints. Both of these are currently the responsibility of an organisation called Consumer Futures, which will be absorbed into the Citizens Advice service. This is the last in a series of Government reforms to make it easier for consumers to know where to turn for help, and ensure they have an effective champion. We've already beefed up our role in representing consumers across other issues like payday loans, and now provide an advice service for people with consumer problems which can be accessed via 03454 04 05 06 or www.citizensadvice.org.uk.