Steve McCabe MP calls for more Ofgem powers to protect vulnerable customers

Steve McCabe MP has spoken about getting a fairer deal for consumers and giving Ofgem more powers to protect vulnerable customers.

In Parliament, Steve has been pushing for openness about a 26p daily standing charge for gas usage which was introduced by the energy market after he was contacted by a number of vulnerable and elderly constituents who had been hit by the charge even though they had never used gas. He was told by the Department for Energy and Climate Change that the charge was a commercial decision, effectively meaning that the government wouldn’t intervene. He then contacted the energy regulator, Ofgem, to ask what action they were taking to protect vulnerable customers from being ripped off.

Ofgem confirmed that they have challenged suppliers who are unfairly charging non-gas consuming customers and have made it clear to suppliers that consumers who have never used gas at their property should not have to pay a gas standing charge. Ofgem have also advised suppliers to set the standing charge at zero for consumers who use no gas at all, but suppliers can effectively ignore this advice.

Steve is now pressing this matter in Parliament and has asked whether the Government intend to strengthen Ofgem’s powers to enable them to take action against suppliers who ignore their guidance on protecting vulnerable customers. In the meantime, Ofgem have said that they will engage with suppliers to encourage better practice in relation to their treatment of zero and low gas users

Last year, Steve carried out a survey in his constituency to find out local peoples’ views on current energy policy, the results revealed that 92% of people who took part in the survey felt that it is important that action is taken to tackle energy prices. A large majority, 95% thought that the energy regulator, Ofgem, should be given more powers to ensure fairer prices for consumers and businesses.

Steve McCabe MP:

“Many people are already struggling with energy bills, to add additional charges for gas to people who don’t even use gas is simply not acceptable and more action needs to be taken to tackle the mistreatment of vulnerable customers. I intend to push this matter further in Parliament and I have referred the names of suppliers who have evaded guidance on vulnerable customers directly to Ofgem.”

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