MP accuses watchdog of failing the vulnerable

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The Energy watchdog has been slammed for dragging its feet over an investigation into why three of the Big Six energy companies failed to meet long-standing commitments to help vulnerable households struggling with their bills.

British Gas, Scottish Power and SSE were the only three of the big power firms to miss targets set under the Community Energy Saving Programme to offer energy efficiency measures for free or at a very low cost to households in deprived communities.

Ofgem launched an investigation into the scandal last Spring but, nearly a year later, there's been no more information about the investigation, let alone any outcome.

"Ofgem should be taking prompt and firm action against energy companies that have failed to meet their obligations to help their vulnerable customers. But yet again we see another investigation dragging on for nearly a year with no end in sight," stormed Caroline Flint, Labour's Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary.

"It's no surprise the energy companies think they can get away with treating their customers so badly, when time after time the regulator has been incapable of enforcing its own rules.

"This investigation should be concluded as a matter of urgency and these companies should not be let off the hook."

An Ofgem spokesman responded: "We are investigating those companies that did not achieve their CESP targets. We carry out investigations thoroughly before reaching a decision.

"Since April 2010 we have concluded over 20 major investigations which have resulted in fines on companies and redress totalling more than £80m."