THE energy system is a “sham” and should be replaced by one that is “democratic and owned by the people,” campaigners demanded yesterday.
They were responding to the findings of a Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) inquiry that showed that British households were being ripped off by the Big Six to the tune of £1.2 billion a year.
The Big Six energy firms’ 2009-10 tariffs for gas and electricity were 5 per cent above what they should have been, the CMA found.
Customers should be encouraged to switch to better deals, the CMA said, as more than a third of the 7,000 people polled had never considered shopping around due to “confusing and inaccurate bills.”
However, the report did not recommend that the Big Six — British Gas, SSE, EDF Energy, RWE npower, E.ON and Scottish Power — should be dismantled to separate power generation from supply.
Activists argue that the energy market fails to serve the interests of cash-strapped, elderly and vulnerable people.
The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) welcomed the report and added that firms had a moral duty to offer the best prices, rather than banking on that fact that many people cannot use the internet to find cheaper “online only” deals.
NPC spokesman Neil Duncan-Jordan said: “The market doesn’t work for older people because they’re not able to exercise this consumer choice. They are taken advantage of. This market has never worked and I doubt it ever will. The whole thing is a sham.”
He demanded nationalisation of gas and electricity so that the elderly do not have to choose between heating and eating.
Fuel Poverty Action campaign group spokeswoman Laura Hill criticised the CMA for “a piecemeal approach to reform,” adding: “They believe confusing and inaccessible ‘competition’ that we have had for nearly 20 years will eventually prevail and reduce bills, which — as we have seen — is definitely not going to happen.
“Essentially, the only thing that will deliver lower bills is having a completely new energy system which is public, renewable, democratic and owned by the people instead of being driven the Big Six.”