Overwhelming public support for windfall tax on energy firms

Fair Energy Campaign

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The Independent Online

Nine out of 10 people support The Independent's calls for an independent public inquiry into the Big Six energy companies. Meanwhile, seven out of 10 think a levy on excessive energy profits is a good idea.

The overwhelming public support for our campaign for fair energy prices is revealed in a survey published today by YouGov on behalf of Friends of the Earth and Compass. It follows yesterday's news that energy watchdog Ofgem is considering price controls on the Big Six and an inquiry into their business practices, supporting two of the key points in The Independent's Fair Prices campaign.

Pressure is growing on the Government to act to help the 5.5 million British households in fuel poverty and the cut the estimated 3,000 deaths caused by people being unable to afford to heat their homes. The Big Six energy firms – EDF, E.on, British Gas, SSE, Scottish Power and Npower – have doubled gas and electricity bills in the past six years, from about £600 to £1,250.

The Green Party leader Caroline Lucas added to the pressure yesterday by tabling an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling for a levy on the Big Six energy companies' profits. More than 100 MPs are expected to support the motion.

The research reveals 77 per cent of people support the principle that money raised from a levy on energy profits should be ring-fenced to help with the public's energy bills. The cash should be used to make homes more energy efficient and take households out of fuel poverty. The results show massive support for the "End the Big Six Energy Fix" campaign and heap further pressure on the Chancellor to introduce a levy on energy companies.

Thousands have now signed the petition backing a levy on the energy firms – at www.endthebigsixenergyfix.org.uk – while more than 26,000 people have already joined Friends of the Earth's "Final Demand" campaign calling for a public inquiry into the power and influence of the Big Six (at www.foe.co.uk/finaldemand).

Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said: "We all lost out from the Government's failure to stand up to the banks – now we need tough action into the ongoing scandal of cold homes, rip-off bills and the Big Six's influence over our politicians."

Meanwhile, more than 100,000 people have signed up to Which?'s "Big Switch" energy campaign.

Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which?, said: "This is testament to the depth of feeling from consumers about the spiralling cost of energy.

"It sends a clear message to the energy companies that people are demanding a better deal, particularly at a time when the large firms are announcing their profits."

Ten Worst Firms Revealed

In further bad news for the energy firms, four of the Big Six are named today as offering the worst customer service in the UK.

The brand consultancy Siegel+Gale named Npower as having the worst customer service out of 122 UK companies surveyed. This put the company slightly behind competitor EDF.

British Gas and E.on were also in the worst 10.

Seigel+Gale said customers felt that Npower and EDF are "especially vague and deceptive in their messaging and pricing".