YVONNE FOVARGUE MP - Suppliers must be held to account

Rising energy bills are consumers’ number one financial concern.

In response, Which? and 38 degrees have launched ‘The Big Switch’ with the aim of securing a better energy deal for people.

Since the launch, more than 150,000 people have joined the campaign and when the registration window closes later this month, the collective bargaining power of thousands of consumers will help negotiate a market-leading energy deal.

I support the campaign, which offers an innovative way of bringing down energy prices and making the energy industry more transparent and responsive to consumer demands.

I also think that the Big Switch model of consumer empowerment and ‘collective switching’ could be used more widely, for example by local authorities and housing associations to negotiate better energy deals on behalf of their residents.

Alongside this campaign, I would like to see the Government take decisive action to make the energy market more responsible and competitive.

I think it is clear that the energy market is not currently working for consumers - energy prices rose by around 20 per cent in the last year and 80 per cent of people are estimated to be overpaying for their gas and electricity.

The Big Switch estimates that UK consumers lose out by £4.1bn a year by not switching to the cheapest energy deal and the people who are most likely to be paying too much are the vulnerable and the elderly.

I would like to see the big six energy companies ensure that it is easier for people to find their cheapest tariffs and, if they do not do so, the Government should legislate so that energy companies are required to automatically offer pensioners over 75 the best deal possible.

If the ‘big six’ companies do not act in the interests of consumers by making their tariffs and prices more transparent, the Government should refer this issue to the independent Competition Commission and undertake more ambitious and effective reform than currently proposed.

Evening Post readers can sign up to ‘The Big Switch’ at www.whichbigswitch.co.uk