Theresa May will press ahead today with a promise to cap energy prices for 17 million households despite warnings that the move could force up bills for other customers. The Conservative general election manifesto will include a pledge to regulate the maximum costs of standard variable tariffs, the default deals for the two thirds of customers who have not sought cheaper alternatives. The prime minister said that she expected the price cap to save families on poor-value tariffs as much as £100 a year. Energy companies, which are lobbying against a cap, have claimed that the move would kill competition, deter investment and endanger jobs. They are expected to try to protect their profits by scrapping cut-price deals, which can be hundreds of pounds a year cheaper, so forcing up bills for savvy customers. Senior Conservatives, including Lord Lawson of Blaby, the former chancellor, have voiced their opposition, with some in government privately pressing for watered-down reforms.
The Times 9th May 2017 read more »
Theresa May has confirmed that the Tory manifesto will include measures to cap energy prices. In a speech at a campaign event in Harrow this morning, the prime minister outlined some of the key policy measures that will be included in the Conservative manifesto, which is pencilled in for publication next Monday. She said: “We’re putting together credible and deliverable policies. Policies that are in the national interests, policies like protecting workers pensions against irresponsible bosses, like capping energy prices to support working families.” Her comments today go beyond those in a speech to Tory activist in Wales in late March when she signalled that the government was willing to go beyond measures to encourage customers to switch suppliers. And they follow reports last week that ministers on the Thatcherite wing of the Conservative have questioned the government’s moves to regulate energy prices, which resembles moves that were widely criticised by Tories when they were proposed by ex-Labour leader Ed Miliband in 2013. The prime minister’s comments followed an attack this morning by Centrica on the government’s moves to ramp up regulation of retail energy prices earlier today.
Utility Week 8th May 2017 read more »
The chief executive of Centrica has hit out at a proposed price cap on energy bills on Monday, warning it would lead to reduced competition and choice, and potentially higher average prices. Iain Conn’s warning at the company’s annual meeting in London came hours before the government confirmed plans to introduce a limit on standard tariffs that affect two-thirds of UK households. Analysts have cautioned that some utilities may have to cut their dividends or that their credit ratings could be at risk if the Tories pressed ahead with a cap. Britain’s biggest energy supplier to homes has lost 261,000 domestic customers since January — a deterioration from the second half of 2016 when it had managed to staunch the flow of households switching to rivals. The decrease also reflects the pressure on the UK’s “big six” energy companies, which have been battling to retain customers following a surge in independent, challenger brands. There are now more than 40 energy suppliers to homes in Britain but switching rates have not been sufficiently high to satisfy ministers that the market is functioning properly for customers.
FT 8th May 2017 read more »
Britain’s biggest supplier of energy to homes has called for the costs of funding government policies such as smart metering to be met via general taxation rather than being passed on to consumers via their energy bills. Large suppliers claim energy bills have recently been forced up by costs outside of their control, such as paying for government policies. These also include subsidising low-carbon forms of power generation. Speaking at Centrica’s AGM in London, Mr Conn insisted these factors — as well as rising wholesale prices — have been behind recent price rises “rather than the profiteering of suppliers”.
FT 8th May 2017 read more »
Prime Minister Theresa May claims she is “fed up” with rip off energy prices “like millions of working families”.The Conservative leader made the statement today, writing in a daily newspaper. She claimed the energy market is not working and the Government needs to intervene. She wrote: “Like millions of working families, I am fed up with rip off energy prices. Too many people simply aren’t getting a fair deal … So I am making this promise: if I am re-elected on June 8, I will take action to end this injustice by introducing a cap on unfair energy price rises.” Former energy secretary Sir Ed Davey said of Mrs May’s announcement: “It is never a good idea to copy the economic strategy of Ed Miliband. “As the Conservatives pointed out at the time, this will damage investment in energy when it is needed more than ever.”
Energy Voice 9th May 2017 read more »
The Conservative manifesto will include plans for price controls on energy bills, Theresa May has confirmed. The policy, a watered-down version of the energy price freeze announced by Ed Miliband before the 2015 general election, would limit the rate at which energy tariff rates can rise. The Prime Minister said the policy was part of her pledge to “step in when markets aren’t working, or take action when people are being taken advantage of”. The Conservatives say they hope the policy will save households on bad energy tariffs up to £100 each. Labour said the policy was “desperate stuff” while the Lib Dems said it was “never a good idea to copy the economic strategy of Ed Miliband”.
Independent 9th May 2017 read more »
British Gas owner Centrica expects to cut around 1,500 jobs this year as mild weather and weaker commodity prices hurt earnings. Despite reiterating its financial targets for the year, including reducing net debt to between £2.5bn and £3bn, Britain’s largest energy supplier said that it had lost around 261,000 customers so far in 2017 and that it expects head count to be cut by around 1,500 throughout the year.
Independent 8th May 2017 read more »
The owner of British Gas may ¬consider cutting shareholder dividends to withstand the looming political threat to its energy supply business as customer numbers continue to fall. Centrica boss Iain Conn faced shareholders at the group’s annual general meeting ahead of the Conservative party’s election manifesto which is expected to include a debilitating price cap which could erase around £200m from its earnings.
Telegraph 8th May 2017 read more »