Consumers forced to wait another six months for long-awaited energy billing and tariff reform

Gas and electricity firms are being probed for competition failings and customer confusion

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The Independent Online

The energy industry will be forced to sweat for another six months to find out what action, if any, will be taken against it by the Competition and Markets Authority.

The CMA was due to announce the results of its investigation into competition failings among gas and electricity suppliers towards the end of December with the expectation that it would force suppliers to make bills clear and tariffs easier to compare understand.

But it has now extended the deadline by up to six months because of the high number of responses it had after publishing its provisional findings in July.

Its provisional decisions and remedies are now set to be published in January 2016, with its final decision revealed in April.

Roger Witcomb, chairman of the energy market investigation, said: “This investigation - and the measures that could result from it - will have long-standing consequences for millions of customers in an industry of vital importance to the whole country.”

He pointed out that it is the most comprehensive investigation into the energy market since privatisation, adding: “This is a once in a generation opportunity to shape the future of this market for the better. It’s important that we get it right.”

Richard Lloyd of Which? said it is sensible to delay the report. “There needs to be time to test reforms properly,” he said.

But Ann Robinson of uSwitch pointed out that the delay will be a disappointment for customers “many of whom are already dreading sky-high bills this winter”.

She urged the energy watchdog Ofgem to move ahead in the meantime with possible remedies in the CMA’s provisional findings. “For example, improving overcomplicated bills and ineffective annual statements would be a vital first step to get more consumers engaged with the energy market,” she said.

 

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