Yesterdays summit with Prime Minster Dsvid Cameron Energy secretary Chris Hunhe the six biggest power firms, consumer groups and regulator Ofgem. Resulted in the expected spin in which everyone said something should be done to reduce prices especially to the most vulnerable. But showed that since privatisation Governments of all colours are impotent, or more accurately haven't the stomach to do anything about it .
Huhne response was for people have to check that they are on the cheapest available energy tariff and whether they could save money by paying by direct debit.
What about the poorest members of society who can't afford the risk of a direct debit bill leading them into the Black and therefore finding themselves accumulating Bank Charges?
What about those who are forced to reduce their energy use to the extent that they find that any savings are minimal. A 5% saving on £2000 is £100 but on £500 is £25 still are saving it might be lost in the process of switching .
Who actually can understand the Tariffs and how to work out whether paying a standard charge and less for the units and simply paying for the units?
David Cameron may call for a "trusted, simple and transparent" market. as Labour's Shadow Energy Minister Caroline Flint does . But why doesn't he legislate for it and why didn't Labour do so when in power
What we have is the three major parties giving the impression that they reconise the problem but are so in thrall to the "Free Enterprise Thatcher" concept that they are unwilling to come up with a real plan.
There are some simple things that can be done.
- All utility companies should bill customers on the use of units only so people can easily see what they are using and the price charged
- All bills payed quarterly should have no increases during that period and people should then be able to immediately and easily switch at the end of that quarter.
- Utility companies should provide customers with information on tier profits and dividends payed to share holders
- All companies should provide a yearly summary bill to customers showing the units used that year and the total bill charged. Banks should give customers a period of grace (say a month) on direct debits from utility suppliers to allow people to add funds and not occur bank charges.
Words are not enough and Huhne's call for people to simply switch, shows that he hasn't a clue how ordinary people are struggling to pay their bills.