Energy tariff row: What happened and what might it mean for consumers?

 

So what did Cameron announce?

The current Prime Minister wrong-footed energy regulators and his own energy department by promising at Prime Minister's Questions that energy firms would be forced to give all customers the lowest tariff.

Is that going to happen?

Of course not. That would mean just one tariff for all. That would stifle competition and would certainly lead to higher bills for millions, knowing the way the energy companies work.

So what does Cameron say now?

He's said nothing more but instead sent confused Coalition Energy Minister John Hayes to the Commons to clear things up.

And did he?

Of course not. He said the details are still being worked out. However he did vow that reforms would help consumers "get the best deal".

So what will happen?

It's difficult to say among all the political bluff and bluster but it seems, at best, energy firms will be encouraged to tell customers about lower tariffs.

That sounds like good news

The truth is it's already the case. The energy providers agreed in April to contact customers once a year to tell them what the best tariff is for them.

So what new will be in the Energy Bill?

The government may make it compulsory for energy companies to tell customers about the best deals. At the moment it's voluntary.

Where does that leave me? Will my bills go down?

Of course not. There needs to be complete reform of the energy market before we get a fair system where there are no customers paying £300 more than others.

So should I do anything?

If you haven't switched energy supplier lately, you should certainly find out if there are better deals around. Experts are encouraging consumers to fix their price on deals lasting well into 2014, to avoid another round of energy price hikes in Autumn 2013.

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