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Energy Bills

Volume 592: debated on Thursday 5 February 2015

16. What steps he is taking to ensure that energy bills for domestic consumers and business users reflect falling wholesale energy prices. (907461)

My hon. Friend raises a vital issue and we have indeed been pressing the larger energy firms on this for some time. The good news is that energy prices have not only been frozen over the last year, but they are now being cut. Moreover, there is now a plethora of lower priced deals out there, especially from the independents, thanks to our policy of promoting competition, encouraging switching, and piling the pressure on the big six with an in-depth investigation of the energy market by the Competition and Markets Authority. I assure my hon. Friend we will continue to fight for the consumer every day.

Recent Which? research shows that energy bills are the main financial worry of two thirds of households, and that while there has been a welcome reduction of about 5% in domestic tariffs this could have been as much as 10% had they mirrored the fall in wholesale costs. What more can the Government do to make sure the big energy companies are more responsive to falls in wholesale prices?

Some energy suppliers have reduced their prices by 10%, and OVO Energy recently cut its prices by more than 10%. It is a complicated analysis and, working with the Treasury, we have looked at it in some detail. Wholesale gas costs represent about a quarter of the average bill; other costs are also changing and not all of them are going down. This is complicated, but it is right that the independent competition authorities look at this—they are specifically addressing this issue—because if there is any malpractice in the energy markets they will be able to expose it and have the teeth to tackle it.