Energy price cap plans to be published

Ofgem sign

Ofgem sign

"Given the sharp reductions in share prices of Centrica and negative impacts on other retailers in the last two weeks, we believe this news is largely discounted in share prices in the near term, though it removes any hope people may have had that Ofgem would oppose application of a more general cap", Deutsche Bank said, issuing a "sell" rating and target price of 160p.

"While five million households will see their bills capped from this winter, I want to see every household protected from rip off bills".

Ofgem said it would now consult the industry on its safeguard tariff for SVTs while the government's draft bill passes through parliament, and said suppliers in the meantime must step up efforts to provide better value deals.

At present about 18 million customers are on some form of default tariff, which can cost hundreds of pounds a year more than the cheapest deals.

To help with this, Ofgem is introducing new rules today to allow suppliers to roll customers coming to the end of their contracts onto another fixed deal instead of a poor value standard variable tariff.

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The Competition and Markets Authority found that customers of the so-called "Big Six" energy suppliers on standard variable and default energy tariffs are paying £1.4bn a year more than they need. A new scheme for this sector would protect around 1 million households next February, it said.

Further details of the government's proposals are expected on Thursday.

Peter Earl, head of energy at Comparethemarket, said a price cap would not fix the broken market.

"That is simply wrong".

Labour says the Government's proposed legislation does not go far enough.

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The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) said the cap would come into effect as soon as practicable after legislation is passed, but it is unlikely to be in place before the winter.

There has also been a guarded welcome for the draft Bill from consumer organisation Which.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: "For millions of consumers anxious about their energy bills, a cap might sound like a positive move". Around 18m customers are now on SVTs or other default tariffs.

"However, the Government must guard against any unintended consequences that undermine customer service and push up prices as a whole".

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