Political Agenda this week, by Mathew Beech

“Energy minister will look at ways to help new entrants”

The Competition and Markets Authority has dominated the energy debate in the Palace of Westminster over the past week, but buried amid the talk of prepayment meter price caps, assisting vulnerable ­consumers, and increasing consumer engagement was something else that could give smaller suppliers a boost.

In a Westminster Hall debate, Labour MP Matthew Pennycook pressed energy minister Andrea Leadsom on what else Ofgem can do to help new suppliers to enter the retail market.

In particular, he cited the work of Ofcom with the telecommunications sector to “help new entrants better to understand the regulatory environment”.

Leadsom appeared to take on board Pennycook’s comments, despite saying, “it is something Ofgem is very aware of”.
The energy minister added she will “certainly take that point away and look at it again”, potentially paving the way for Ofgem to assist new entrants to the market, adding to the 35 existing suppliers.

This all ties in with the government’s plan to tackle the “massive challenge” to inject competition into the energy sector, which is seen as a route to increasing customer engagement and lowering consumer bills.

On the subject of cost to consumers, Leadsom added that the price cuts made by the major energy suppliers to their standard variable tariffs were “good news”, but cautioned, “we want to see much more effort” by the suppliers in continuing to cut customer bills.
They have been warned.

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