Britain’s energy regulator has warned gas and electricity suppliers it is keeping a close eye on their activities after a series of tariff hikes left consumers “frustrated and angry”.
Ofgem chief executive Andrew Wright made the remarks as the watchdog prepares to publish reforms designed to help independent suppliers compete effectively with the so-called Big Six.
Mr Wright urged companies to use other measures that are already coming into force to simplify tariffs to help restore the damaged trust of consumers in the sector.
In a speech to energy experts, he said the firms should observe “not just the letter of the reforms but the spirit as well”.
He added: “We will be watching suppliers’ actions very closely.”
Earlier this year, it emerged that British Gas customers could be missing out because the firm only told them about its cheapest deals if they had opted to receive advertising materials.
A recent round of inflation-busting price hikes, at a time when household incomes are continuing to feel the squeeze, have created a political storm.
Increases so far announced this autumn by British Gas, Scottish Power, npower and SSE have averaged around 9%. Suppliers have blamed wholesale energy costs, network charges, and government green levies.
Mr Wright said: “Consumers are frustrated and angry that the latest round of price rises have happened at a time when incomes are already being squeezed.
“Consumer confidence in the energy market is very low and suppliers must use our reforms to reach out to consumers and restore trust in the sector.”