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Energy: Prices

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 15 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the expenditure made by each energy company on its social tariff in each of the last five years. (205207)

Detailed reporting of energy company social tariffs has been led by OFGEM in recent years with BERR reporting at an aggregate level. In August and October 2007, OFGEM reported on the range of voluntary social initiatives each of the six largest energy suppliers provide to assist their vulnerable customers.

Etimated figures for combined social spending on all voluntary initiatives (including social tariffs, rebates, trust funds, partnerships etc. but excluding differences in company fuel price levels) in 2006 by company are displayed in the following table:

£ million



British Gas


EDF Energy






Scottish Power


Scottish and Southern Energy


Further detail on the six largest energy suppliers' expenditure on their social initiatives is available here:

Accurate figures prior to 2006 at individual supplier level are not available. OFGEM published a report of supplier activity in June 2005 but no assessments were made at aggregate supplier level.

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what representations his Department has received on the time taken for changes in the wholesale price of energy to be reflected in the prices paid by domestic customers; and if he will make a statement. (205208)

Timing of retail price increases or decreases are commercial decisions by the energy supply companies. The Government do not interfere in commercial pricing decisions in the energy supply markets, which are competitive markets.

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions he has had with energy companies on the practice of differential charging for payments made electronically, by direct debit and by cash; and if he will make a statement. (205211)

Ofgem is currently conducting a probe into the energy markets, which includes looking at tariff differentials to make sure that the different payment methods are fair and justified. It released initial findings at the Fuel Poverty summit in April, and is already taking action to ensure that energy suppliers provide clear information on their websites to ensure that customers can make informed choices about the different payment methods. Ofgem will report on its probe in September and consider then whether further action is required.

In respect of customers using pre-payment meters, the Government announced in the Budget that it is prepared to legislate with a view to reducing the differential between pre-payment and other forms of payment should Ofgem's probe reveal that pre-payment customers are suffering any disadvantage. However, in the first instance the Government will look to Ofgem and the energy suppliers to provide the solution.