ENERGY watchdog Ofgem was accused yesterday of “tinkering over the pretence that a free market is possible” in the energy supply industry.
General union GMB criticised Ofgem’s proposal to go ahead with introducing a price cap on pre-payment meters, saying it gave the false impression that a free market in this sector is possible.
Ofgem’s proposal, which it claims will protect four million “vulnerable” customers, was made in response to a report published by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in June, setting out ways in which the market could be improved for service users.
The watchdog also said it will work closely with energy supply companies to help “disengaged customers” who remain on expensive tariffs to shop around for better deals.
The cap on meter charges is intended to help the “most vulnerable and least likely to switch” and will save customers around £75 a year from next April.
However GMB’s national officer Justin Bowden was scathing about the plans, calling for Ofgem to be abolished and the energy industry to be put back into public control.
He said: “Here we go again with more Ofgem tinkering over the pretence that a free market is possible in this sector.
“Government cannot duck taking the decisions needed to keep the lights on and ensure the decarbonisation of the sector.”
Mr Bowden also urged that the power to cap prices, limit profit levels and finance and run power stations should be taken under the control of the government rather than Ofgem.
GMB has repeatedly called for the energy regulators to be scrapped, claiming that they have failed to work in the interests of or protect customers from rising energy bills.