As we’ve enjoyed some rare Mediterranean weather in Manchester during the past few weeks, not many of us will have been thinking about reaching for the central heating switch. Even fewer of us will have been thinking about how much our energy at home is costing us, and whether we’re getting the best deal for the not inconsiderable amount of money we pay.
It has been an aim of both mine and the Government to protect consumers from unfair energy tariffs. That’s why I’ve been working with colleagues in Government on the Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Bill, which recently passed through the House of Commons with the expectation that it will become law by this summer.
Further to the Smart Meters Bill, which will mean an end to estimated energy bills and make it easier for people to switch suppliers, the new Bill will protect consumers who may not be receiving the fairest deal ahead of a winter where they will need it, especially if they are vulnerable and find the process of switching suppliers difficult.
Customers who shop around and switch suppliers can save around £300 each year, but bills remain higher than they should for millions of households. Ofgem have already introduced a safeguard tariff cap on prepayment meters, saving five million of the most vulnerable customers an average £60 each year, but there is more to do to ensure we get this right.
The changes are hoped to be in place before winter and aim to put a cap on standard tariffs by the end of the year, so that 11 million more households can feel the benefit of lower prices.
Strong competition is the best way to protect the interests of consumers, and these changes are part of larger efforts to reform the energy market, giving more power to consumers, increasing competition through the rollout of smart meters and making switching suppliers quicker and easier for everyone.
It’s good news that we will be able to offer more protection for households right across Stockport from excessive energy bills that hit the most vulnerable consumers the hardest. I know that high energy charges are a big concern for many people, and I am pleased that we have taken action to introduce measures to help fix the market by giving power to consumers and increasing competition.