Meet the energy boss who wants to give you money back

SSE's incoming chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

The man who will soon be in charge of SSE - one of the big energy companies - wants to give you money back! That might take you by surprise. But Alistair Phillips-Davies, who takes over as chief executive in the summer, is promising that if customer service at the company falls short, customers will receive £20 off their bills.

But while he is clearly trying to rebuild trust with his customers after the company announced a 9% price rise, he has some interesting things to say about the utilities industry as a whole.

The reputation of the sector has been battered as customers deal with price hikes on their energy bills, year after year.

SSE's training centre in Perth, Scotland Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

His comments come as the government publishes its tweaked Energy Bill, which follows Ofgem's proposals to cut the number of energy tariffs to four rather than sticking to the tone of the Prime Minister's promise to force companies to put everyone on the cheapest tariff.

Phillips-Davies told me that some of his colleagues in the industry have been too slow to simplify bills and too slow to be transparent. SSE, he says, has three tariffs - fewer than Ofgem are now recommending.

Customers have seen energy bills rise year after year Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

And although consumers complain that the company's profits have risen along with the bills, he says that margins are tight, and costs imposed on the business are increasing too.

Some parts of the industry, he admits, have been "poor" - slow to try to mend the breakdown in trust between energy companies and their customers.

But in promising to improve customer service and pay you if it does not happen, at least one firm appears to be putting some of its money where its mouth is.