Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: I do welcome that. We have talked about household consumers, and for many very small businesses, their energy bill is also an important component of their costs. In my request for advice, which it was technically necessary to make to Ofgem, I asked for that advice to apply to microbusinesses as well.

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: My right hon. Friend makes an excellent point. As I said, the poorest 10% of households spend 10% of their household expenditure on energy, whereas the richest 10% spend 3% of theirs on it. We need to look particularly at the conditions of more vulnerable consumers to ensure that they are not disadvantaged. My right hon. Friend mentioned one of the ways in which they are.

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his questions. I hope he will see that I answered many of his points in my initial response to the urgent question. He will share my view—indeed, I think it is his view, too—that we should act as soon as possible to provide relief to consumers. That will require Ofgem to use its powers. It has powers that it can use immediately, and I have...

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: Following a two-year inquiry, the Competition and Markets Authority found that energy customers on standard variable tariffs were paying on average £1.4 billion a year more than would be the case in a competitive market. That is completely unacceptable, so my party’s manifesto committed to introduce a safeguard tariff to extend the price protection currently in place for some...

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: My hon. Friend has done great work with many Members from various parties to establish that there is an appetite and need to tackle the problem exposed by the CMA, which has been going on for too long. In response to my letter, Ofgem has said today that it will work with consumer groups and come forward with a range of responses. I will look at them closely, as I know my hon. Friend will, and...

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: I agree with my hon. Friend. While there should certainly not be barriers in the way, it also should not be necessary for people to spend every evening on the internet checking whether their bill has gone up by an outrageous margin. If people are loyal to a brand, it is not unreasonable for them to expect to be treated reasonably, especially as that brand may be a trusted brand. The regulator...

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: The hon. Gentleman talks about energy strategy, and it is right that the Government have taken a decision—this was ducked by previous Governments for decades—to renew our nuclear power stations that are coming to the end of their lives. He will know that the SNP Government in Scotland agreed to extend the lives of nuclear power stations there, and he will also know about the...

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: My hon. Friend, who is well informed about such issues, is absolutely right. The opportunity that smart meters bring is that people can have much more knowledge and control of their energy use, and use that to get the best deals available. That is why the roll-out of smart meters is such an important part of our reforms to the energy market.

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: My right hon. Friend makes an excellent point. We need to ensure that we meet our important climate change commitments at a competitive cost—for consumers and for businesses—and that we obtain the industrial benefits from having a supply chain in this country. That is exactly why we devote a chapter of the industrial strategy Green Paper to future plans to make the most of the...

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: We are seeing a big increase in the deployment of renewables as the price comes down, as the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) said. The effect of the overcharging—the abuse—is not a return to consumers, and this is not about the increased deployment of renewables. In the analysis of the CMA, the practice results in profits that are higher than they would be in a...

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: In response to the first part of the hon. Gentleman’s question, I welcome, as he does, the huge progress that has been made not just in the deployment of renewables, but in the cost reductions that we have seen. That process has created jobs across the UK, especially in coastal towns. I had the pleasure of opening the Siemens wind blade factory in Hull, which created 1,000 good jobs....

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: I am not sure that I would give them the excuse of exchange rate movements. The Competition and Markets Authority has said that suppliers have unilateral market power over this part of their customer base. This is a regulated market. Ofgem has the powers to introduce and extend the price gap, and my view is that it should use those powers now.

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: I agree with my hon. Friend. One feature of the energy market is that the poorer someone is, the larger the proportion of their income that they spend on energy. That is why it is imperative that vulnerable consumers should not be required go on the internet every few months to check that their tariff has not defaulted to a much higher one. That was the reason for my letter to Ofgem, and it...

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: No, it is one of the reasons why this investigation was commissioned and why what I have asked Ofgem to consider and enact will be particularly important to the hon. Gentleman’s constituents in Wales.

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: I have seen that. This two-year inquiry conducted by the CMA identified £1.4 billion of detriment, which is a huge amount of money. When our constituents see the difference—it can be up to £100 a year—that they pay for a dual fuel bill by being on a dual fuel tariff, they know that that is significant amount. The CMA said that suppliers have “unilateral market...

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: No, it was this Government who referred the whole industry to the Competition and Markets Authority. When the right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband) was Energy Secretary, I urged this measure on him, and he rejected it flat, so it is this Government who have exposed the level of the detriment, and it is this Government who are acting to put a cap in place to prevent this...

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: A response is required from the regulator; this is a regulated industry. The development of modern markets means that it is possible for suppliers, especially dominant ones, to identify the customers who are the least likely to switch. As my hon. Friend the Member for St Albans (Mrs Main) said, they are often among the most vulnerable. It is unacceptable to use that information to sting...

Energy Price Cap (3 Jul 2017)
Greg Clark: I am surprised to hear implicit support from the hon. Gentleman for the programme of nationalisation of this sector that the Labour party stood on. The billions of pounds that that would cost would not be the most important use of funds. This has been a regulated industry since privatisation many years ago, and the regulation needs to function better than it has.


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