London, England — (METERING.COM) — June 25, 2013 – Britain’s Ofgem has finalized proposals aimed to deliver a simpler, clearer and fairer energy market for consumers, following two years of engagement with consumers and the industry.
The proposals, which are now up for final consultation, will tackle what the regulator describes as problems of widespread consumer confusion over energy tariffs, poor supplier behavior and lack of transparency which is stifling competition.
Under the proposals, suppliers will be restricted to offering four “core” tariffs for both electricity and gas, which would apply to each payment type. Alongside those, dual fuel and online account management discounts will remain, but will not be considered as “core tariffs” but as a discount. Further, they will be simplified and will apply uniformly across all tariffs, so that for example, a customer could choose a dual fuel discount and an online account management discount.
Suppliers will also be required to introduce new tools to help consumers switch, including personalized information on the cheapest tariff they offer for them. A new tariff information label will set out key terms and conditions and relevant information to help consumers compare across suppliers. Ofgem is also looking at ways in which the stickiest and most vulnerable consumers can be given better information on the cheapest deal across the market.
Finally new enforceable standards of conduct will enable Ofgem to take action against suppliers where they have failed to treat customers fairly. This will place an overarching condition on suppliers to consider consumers’ needs and treat them fairly.
“Our reforms today are the blueprint for the simpler, clearer and fairer energy market that consumers deserve,” commented Andrew Wright, senior partner for Markets at Ofgem. “This will provide them with the choices they want alongside the simplicity they need.”
Suppliers are now being encouraged to implement these reforms, now under final consultation, as quickly as possible. The main tariff reforms are expected to be in place by December 2013 and some aspects, like the standards of conduct to ensure fair play for consumers, sooner than that.