Break-up threat to Big Six energy firms

Regulators have called for an investigation into the UK's Big Six energy suppliers amid soaring household bills and rocketing profits.

Live updates

Centrica: Uncertainty could damage energy investment

The chief executive of Centrica, which owns British Gas, has welcomed the major competition inquiry into energy firms but said a lengthy review could damage investment when the market's "security is being seriously challenged."

Centrica head office in Windsor, Berks. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Sam Laidlaw said: "Anything that clears the air and helps rebuild trust in the industry must be a good thing. Britain's energy market is highly competitive and we believe that a full independent review by a respected regulatory authority would demonstrate precisely that.

"Competition is working, providing choice for consumers and some of the lowest prices in Europe.

"We hope that a lengthy review process will not damage confidence in the market, when over £100 billion of investment in new infrastructure is needed.

"A prolonged period of uncertainty could damage investment at a time when Britain's energy security is being seriously challenged."

Read: Inquiry a significant moment but it will take two years

Advertisement

Ed Davey will give Ofgem 'whatever support they need'

Energy Secretary Ed Davey will give Ofgem "whatever support they need" after the watchdog announced a major competition inquiry into the 'Big Six' energy firms.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change's Twitter account tweeted:

Fa09a81bfb7581d0ed7e5d474392d69a_normal

.@edwarddaveymp: We will give Ofgem & CMA whatever support they need to get this done as quickly as possible #energymarkets

Read: 'Big Six' energy firms to face major competition inquiry

Martin Lewis: Energy inquiry is 'good but very, very late'

Ofgem's decision to launch a major competition inquiry into the 'Big Six' energy firms marks a "good day but very, very late day", the founder of MoneySavingExpert.com said.

Martin Lewis told Daybreak: "Why now and not five years ago when it could have made a difference?

"Will it mean lower energy prices? I think the hope is a more fluid market will mean relatively lower prices...but don't expect to see your bills coming down by 20 to 30% - that isn't going to happen."

He added: "There's visceral anger that some people in this country have to choose between heating and eating, so I'm glad to see it happen but I do have a little bit of annoyance that there's nothing in this report we didn't know. Why has it taken so long?"

Read: 'Big Six' energy firms to face major competition inquiry

Energy UK: We want to 'put consumer at the heart'

The energy industry will be putting the consumer "at the heart of what we do", a representative for gas and electricity firms told Daybreak.

Chief operating officer for Energy UK Lawrence Slade admitted providers "had not done enough in the past" and said the roll out of smart meters would help customers cut down their energy usage.

GMB union: Energy inquiry 'bad for jobs in the UK'

A major competition inquiry into the 'Big Six' energy firms will be "bad for jobs in the UK, bad for investment and it will do nothing for consumers apart from maybe delay the relentless rise in energy bills until after an election", a union has warned.

The warning from GMB comes after SSE announced yesterday it will cut 500 jobs as part of a cost-cutting programme.

This is designed to kick the issue down the road until after the next election.

The country is in the midst of an energy crisis. Energy bills are going to keep going up. Households will struggle to pay their bills and British industry is losing competitiveness.

The market is being propped up by huge subsidies. Electricity wholesale prices across Europe are dropping. Desperately needed investment has been slashed.

– Gary Smith, GMB national secretary for energy

Read: 'Big Six' energy firms to face major competition inquiry

Advertisement

Ofgem: Energy profits quadrupled to £1.1bn in 3 years

ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills has tweeted:

8770f0d680420a759927c206792bba68_normal

OFGEM says retail profits rose from £233m to £1.1bn in last 3 years with "no clear evidence" of companies becoming more efficient.

Read: SSE boss 'agrees with Miliband' as it freezes energy prices

Labour: Inquiry confirms 'the energy market is broken'

A major competition inquiry into the 'Big Six' energy firms shows "the energy market is broken" and that a price freeze is "needed for all customers", Labour's shadow energy secretary said.

Yesterday's price freeze from SSE showed that a price freeze is possible. Today's confirmation that the energy market is broken shows that it's needed for all customers.

That's why the next Labour Government will freeze gas and electricity prices until 2017 and reform the market to break up the big energy companies and make tariffs simpler and fairer.

– Caroline Flint, Labour’s Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary

Read: SSE boss 'agrees with Miliband' as it freezes energy prices

Load more updates

Advertisement

Today's top stories