To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions he has had with energy companies on the practice of differential charging for payments made electronically, by direct debit and by cash; and if he will make a statement.
Ofgem is currently conducting a probe into the energy markets, which includes looking at tariff differentials to make sure that the different payment methods are fair and justified. It released initial findings at the Fuel Poverty summit in April, and is already taking action to ensure that energy suppliers provide clear information on their websites to ensure that customers can make informed choices about the different payment methods. Ofgem will report on its probe in September and consider then whether further action is required.
In respect of customers using pre-payment meters, the Government announced in the Budget that it is prepared to legislate with a view to reducing the differential between pre-payment and other forms of payment should Ofgem's probe reveal that pre-payment customers are suffering any disadvantage. However, in the first instance the Government will look to Ofgem and the energy suppliers to provide the solution.