Yesterday Anneliese attended an event in Reading organised by Victoria Groulef which set out Labour's plans for a new energy regulator.
Caroline Flint MP, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, announced at the meeting that the next Labour Government will give a tough new regulator the power to revoke energy companies' licences where there are repeated instances of the most serious and deliberate breaches of their licence conditions which harm the interests of consumers.
The regulator will also be charged with producing an annual 'scorecard' for energy suppliers, reporting on the company's performance and identifying any possible areas of concern. These are part of a wider set of reforms to fix the energy market.
Anneliese said: "Britain's energy has often been more expensive than that in other European countries. This has been exacerbated by the fact that our housing stock is, in European comparison, very energy-inefficient. We are losing more energy because of poor insulation and housing design than homes in virtually every other European country. So there is more need than ever to sort out our energy market so that consumers are not losing out."
Caroline revealed new figures at the meeting, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, which showed how the Tories have presided over a broken energy market. Despite Ofgem issuing 30 fines, totalling over £87 million, since 2001, energy companies have continued to mistreat their customers and face another 16 probes into mis-selling, poor customer service and other bad practice.
She also highlighted the scale of the rise in energy bills and the cost-of-living crisis since David Cameron became Prime Minister:
· Household energy bills have risen twice as fast as inflation since 2010.
· Household energy bills have risen four times as fast as wages since 2010.
· And household energy prices in the UK have risen faster than almost anywhere else in the developed world since 2010.
Caroline said, following the meeting: "These figures lay bare the full scale of the cost-of-living crisis and David Cameron's failure to tackle rip-off energy bills. On David Cameron's watch, energy bills in Britain have risen twice as fast as inflation, four times faster than wages and faster than almost any other country in the developed world. Households cannot afford another five years of this.
"At the next election there will be a real choice between another five years of rocketing energy bills, rip-off tactics and poor customer service under the Tories -- or Labour's plans to freeze energy bills until 2017, saving the average household £120, and reform the energy market for the future."
On the announcement that the next Labour Government will give the regulator the power to revoke energy companies' licences where there are repeated instances of the most serious and deliberate breaches of their licence conditions which harm the interests of consumers, Caroline added that "the public have a right to be treated fairly by energy companies. Where firms fail to meet these standards there must be tough and decisive action. Too often energy companies seem to view the regulator's fines as a cost of doing business -- not as a warning to get their act together. Of course consumers must be compensated -- but if energy companies persist in mistreating their customers they must know their licence could be on the line."
Anneliese added: "Britain is currently lagging behind other European countries when it comes to protecting consumers' interests in the energy sector. I'm pleased to see Labour tackling these issues head on, so that we can get an energy market which works for everyone and helps combat climate change, rather than leading to super-profits for a relatively small number of providers."