What do the new changes to the energy policy mean for consumers?


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The Independent Online

More changes to the energy market?

Not really. It's just a fresh set of proposals that are aimed to ensure that people aren't paying too much for their gas and electricity.

But I thought that Cameron had sorted things out?

Far from it. He introduced confusion by announcing on Wednesday that energy firms would be forced to give all customers the lowest tariff.

But isn't that what Ofgem is proposing?

Sort of. Ofgem wants it to be mandatory for energy firms to tell their customers what the lowest deal available to them is.

The suspicion is that, having been made aware of Ofgem's announcement, Cameron tried to claim it as his own to gain some political currency and in the process confused himself and the message.

So this is good news?

Sort of. If it happens and energy companies don't bury the details in the small print, then it could help ensure more people don't remain stuck on out-of-date expensive tariffs. But Ofgem's proposals go further than those garbled by the Coalition.

Are they going to force energy firms to give free heating to at-risk people?

Not quite. But they are proposing to make suppliers tell vulnerable folk an estimate of the cheapest tariff across the market. If that happens - and it's explained clearly to customers - it should help more of them realise that they're paying over the odds for their home energy.

Are there really lots of people paying too much for energy?

Yes, millions. Anyone who hasn't switched supplier or tariff in the last 12 months could be paying more than they need to.

But what's the point of switching if I'm only going to save a few pounds?

It could be hundreds. At Scottish Power, for instance, the difference between the lowest and highest price energy deals is around £300.