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Tories pledge to cap rising energy prices

Tories pledge to cap rising energy prices

Theresa May says she is "fed up with rip-off energy prices" and will cap bill increases if the Conservatives win the next election.

Theresa May has vowed to introduce a cap on standard variable energy tariffs in the Conservative Party manifesto, in a bid to end the "injustice" of increasing energy costs.

The Prime Minister said 17 million households will benefit from the cap on poor value standard variable tariffs (SVTs) as part of her drive to stand up for ordinary working families.

Centrica Chief Executive Iain Conn said last month that May's plan to cap energy prices suggests some in her government do not believe in free markets at a time when it is pinning its post-Brexit hopes on free trade.

Speaking at the Conservative party's annual conference in September 2013, Osborne said: "Companies would just jack up prices before the freeze, so in the short term prices go up".

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Even Energy Secretary Greg Clark has admitted, when pressed by BBC Breakfast, that he has never switched provider to find a better deal because it is a "hassle", despite encouraging consumers to do so.

The number of consumers switching suppliers rose to a record high last year and the big six providers held 99 per cent of the market just five years ago, showing competition is improving.

The SNP's Callum McCaig said the policy was "a screeching U-turn" and an admission of "complete failure in government to make the energy market work".

Similarly, figures released by comparison site energyhelpline in August last year, showed a third of United Kingdom households, which have not switched their energy suppliers over the past five years, have spent £18.7bn ($24bn) more than they should have had.

The industry has argued that a price cap would wipe out competition and damage investment.

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The recent price hikes have marked a sharp turnaround from early 2015, when four of Britain's "Big Six" energy companies cut their tariffs on the back of a decline in gas prices.

Michael Fallon joined in, saying: 'We have not seen intervention in industry on a scale like this since the 1970s when they tried to control the price of bread'.

"Well, I can take a consumer onto a price competition website today and I could save them much, much more than that".

The regulator Ofgem would review the market twice a year and set maximum prices, handing 17m families on standard tariffs up to £100 a year, according to Tory sources.

The move has been widely criticised by the industry and the Tories face accusations of hypocrisy after they attacked an identical promise by former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband at the 2015 General Election. For Centrica and SSE, the two most exposed to Britain, a price cap could limit their ability to increase dividends.

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