Budget targets energy firms’ profit from the poor

Alistair Darling will this week announce plans to use legal powers in
stopping energy companies make a reported £400m in excess profits from some of
Britain’s poorest consumers.

In what has been termed an ‘unusual intervention in the market’, Darling is
expected to announce in this week’s budget a plan to control the tariffs paid by
3.8m electricity customers and 2.8m gas customers who use pre-payment meters.

The Financial Times reports
HM Treasury
ministers and officials abandoned ten days of talks, after they failed to
persuade energy companies to ‘voluntarily’ put more money into cutting bills for
poor consumers.

Darling is expected to say talks are continuing with the companies on a wider
package of measures and treasury officials said yesterday that, as a first step,
he would use reserve government powers under the electricity and gas acts to cut
tariffs for customers with pre-payment meters, either through a cap or some
other mechanism.

Further reading:

Should energy firms be free to raise prices to fund clean

story in the Financial Times

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