NEA comment on Ofgem taking forward the CMA’s recommendations
The CMA has rightly highlighted that energy is an essential service but many customers are currently excluded from signing up to the cheapest deals. This is because of their meter type; a poor credit history; they are worried about losing out on support like the Warm Home Discount; or they face cost barriers if they attempt to switch back to a standard meter. The CMA remedies and Ofgem’s implementation plan therefore needs to be part of a much broader package of support and solutions to tackle exclusion in the energy market. Ofgem’s implementation plans also need to put customers’ priorities back at the heart of this process and recognise where further work will be needed. In particular:
- The planned database to prompt customers to switch off standard variable tariffs (SVTs) needs to be thought through thoroughly, tested and piloted with non-domestic customers first
- The plans to remove the retail market review core tariffs must not lead to a re-proliferation of confusing and difficult-to-compare tariff choices, and Ofgem must step in quickly if this happens
- If price comparison websites are not to be required to provide accurate information about the coverage or limitations of the deals they show, as a minimum they must clearly state if suppliers are able to offer government-mandated programmes like energy discounts or support for energy efficiency
- Moving quickly to implement the pre-payment meter price control is welcome, but these consumers will require bespoke advice in order to decide whether they should keep their existing meter or they would benefit from installing a smart meter
- Many low-income consumers are also not on pre-payment meters and need to benefit from extra support, fairer and cheaper tariffs as well.
To read Ofgem’s Remedy Implementation Strategy visit: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/system/files/docs/2016/08/implementation_strategy.pdf.