Dan Poulter is the Conservative candidate for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich and was, until recently when the Select Committee dissolved, Vice Chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.
With hardworking families facing yet more eye watering rises to their home energy costs, Theresa May is right to pledge that a Conservative Government will cap energy bills and stop fat cat firms ripping off poorer customers.
The Sun has regularly campaigned to hold fat cat energy companies to account and Theresa May’s plans will do just that, and at the same time making hardworking families between £100 and £200 per year better off. That means £200 more in your pocket rather than further inflating the already massive salaries of energy company bosses.
Gas and electricity bills only ever seem to go up, meaning that more and more of our monthly pay packets are swallowed up by greedy energy companies. Energy firm profit margins are hitting record levels and it is the consumer who is paying the price, with 17 million families on standard variable tariffs facing massive and unjustified increases in their bills. As if to prove the point, EDF recently announced two price rises in less than six months. Their standard variable tariff is now hundreds of pounds more expensive than the best deals on the market and in March, Npower lifted its standard tariff electricity prices by a huge 15 per cent. Also last year, a secret report was exposed from the Big 6’s own trade body that suggested a profit margin of £250 from customers on standard variable tariffs.
With the vast majority of consumers, especially those on the lowest incomes, on the most expensive tariffs, the current energy market serves the “Big 6” energy companies and the people that run them. It is a market that does not work for customers and there is a big human cost. Without gas and electricity, people can’t heat their homes and it is the old and vulnerable who are most at risk. As an NHS doctor, I know that in cold homes people die. That’s why Theresa May is right to promise a price cap and to stop greedy energy firms from exploiting pensioners and hardworking families on lower incomes.
Many people grew up without any choice in their energy supplier and for them, a “free” energy market is just not the reality. Older and more vulnerable customers are being exploited because energy pricing systems are too complex for anyone other than an expert to understand. For many hardworking families with many other things on their plate, there simply isn’t enough time in the day to find a good energy deal. So 17 million people, like you and me, our parents and grandparents who are currently on standard variable tariffs, have suffered years of exploitation and being ripped off by energy companies. Hardworking families deserve better and the protection of a price cap.
The men in charge of these fat cat energy companies are howling in protest against the energy price cap. This is to be expected because the energy market works well for them as it is. British Gas lost 400,000 customers last year but less customers isn’t a problem, so long as British Gas remain free to overcharge the customers on standard variable tariffs who remain. So of course we should expect the squeals of complaint from the “Big 6” energy companies – arguing in favour of an energy market that lines their pockets at the expense of the overwhelming majority of their customers.
Energy is an essential good. An energy market that only serves the interests of six big energy companies is a broken energy market. Firms like British Gas and EDF have had many years, if not decades, to treat hardworking families and pensioners on fixed incomes fairly, but they have failed to do so. They have had their chance and they have blown it. Theresa May has rightly refused to be cowed by the protests of the big energy firms. She is standing up for the rights of millions of hardworking energy customers.