Ouch! How Nick Clegg's new 'landmark' energy bill scheme is not so new

Nick Clegg has hailed the new energy deal as a 'landmark' Photo:

Nick Clegg has been very keen today to highlight the government's agreement with the energy companies that will see them write to their customers every year outlining the best deal. He described it as a 'landmark' moment, saying:

We have secured a landmark deal with the six big energy companies, who cover 99% of customers, to give customers a guaranteed offer of the best tariff for them.

Not all the energy companies however would agree the deal is quite what it is cracked up to be by the politicians however. In a refreshingly candid interview, the boss of Npower, Kevin McCullough, has just told me that in fact much of what they have agreed is what the industry does anyway.

He told me, it is a 'little bit of play for the government to suggest that this is a landmark deal'.

Ouch! Sources at one of the other big players concurred, sounding a little underwhelmed at how much this deal will actually change.

Companies will have to advise customers of the best tariff

McCullough was also realistic about how much the UK companies can actually do to control prices, given rising global demand for energy and the billions of pounds they need to spend on updating infrastructure and the switch to renewables saying, 'it is a sad fact but prices are going to go up'.

nPower say they are already running similar schemes to the Government's new 'landmark deal'

What he says the firms and the government want to do, and realistically they can do a LOT more to do, is cut the number of tariffs on offer, 120 at the moment, be more transparent about what people are being charged, and make it easier for people to switch company if they want to. But will many more of us actually bother to do it?

McCullough says more people in this country bother to switch than anywhere else in Europe and questions whether the apathy that prevents some of the rest of us doing it will really reduce.

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