Ofgem to create reassurance campaign

Electricity and gas regulator Ofgem is readying an advertising push to communicate to billpayers how they will be affected by upcoming reforms to the industry as it faces concerns from some politicians and campaign groups that it is not doing enough to clamp down on the price hikes from the big six.

Ofgem is readying an advertising push to address concerns it is not being harder on the country’s biggest energy firms.

The watchdog is in the early stages of prepping a multi-channel campaign for 2014 to educate consumers about how new rules, set to come into force next year, will make the sector simpler, clearer and fairer. It is working with the Government Procurement Service to recruit an integrated agency to co-create the campaign. 

In January, complex multi-tier tariffs and simplifying services will be banned by the regulator with each supplier offering four core tariffs for gas and four for electricity. From the end of March, further reforms will be introduced to ensure that utilities providers have to tell customers what tariff is cheapest. Billpayers will also get more personalized information about their energy use.

A spokesman for Ofgem says upcoming activity will look to ensure customers are “fully informed about these changes” after coming under repeated fire this year for not being harder on the UK’s biggest suppliers. The regulator was labeled a “toothless tiger” by Labour backbencher Ian Lavery earlier this week (26 November), while the party’s leader Ed Miliband has threatened to replace it with a new organisation if he wins the next election. 

Ofgem has attempted to temper the criticisms in recent months. Earlier this week, it launched a scathing attack on the record profits of the country’s Big Six energy firms after publishing a report that found the companies’ profits per customer had leapt 77 per cent between 2011 and 2012. It claimed there was a “deep distrust of anything the energy companies do or say”. The regulator is also leading plans to improve switching across the industry as part of a review of energy competition and prices.

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