Politicians, consumer groups, the regulator and suppliers will attend a crunch energy summit to tackle soaring gas and electricity costs on Monday afternoon. Prime Minister David Cameron (pictured, right) and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, who are both attending, write exclusively for MoneySavingExpert.com below outlining their plans...
Energy bills have increased by more than £100 for most people since this summer. These price rises couldn't come at a worse time for consumers who are already feeling the pinch from rising petrol prices and the cost of the weekly shop.
People want to know what the Government is going to do about it.
We can't control volatile world energy prices. But we can still help people get their bills down. So today we are bringing together the industry, consumer groups and [regulator] Ofgem for an energy summit that will focus on getting people the help they need to reduce their bills in time for this winter.
The easiest ways to get energy bills down quickly are to get people paying the lowest possible tariffs and to reduce the amount of energy that is wasted.
So first of all we want to clear up the bewildering array of tariffs and special offers provided by energy companies so people know how to get the best deal.
Right now, it's all far too complicated and it's incredibly frustrating.
It's possible to save up to £200 from an annual fuel bill by shopping around for the lowest rate and yet Ofgem tells us that only around a sixth of households switched suppliers last year.
At today's summit, we want to explore what action can be taken immediately to encourage greater switching.
Huhne: make switching easier
Another way to cut bills this winter is to install insulation. From next year, the Government's Green Deal will offer improved insulation for everyone at no cost.
In the meantime, to help people warm their homes immediately, we are giving the most vulnerable households free or heavily subsidised insulation, delivered by the energy companies. Not at some point in the future, but now.
On top of this, we're paying a £120 rebate to more than 600,000 of our most vulnerable pensioners, and of course, we're maintaining the vital winter fuel payment and cold weather payments.
Long term changes
And this is just the beginning. Our first priority is to provide immediate help for this winter. But we also want make the longer term changes that will help get bills down every winter.
Last Friday, Ofgem announced the next stage of its retail energy market reforms.
These radical reforms will completely overhaul and simplify tariffs, protecting consumers from price rises and hidden charges and encouraging new players, like supermarkets and co-operatives, to enter energy markets by forcing suppliers to sell more of their electricity on the open market.
We are giving Ofgem significantly enhanced powers to implement these changes as quickly as possible.
We are also taking steps to deal with our exposure to volatile world energy prices and promote more sources of energy generated at home.
We recently announced an ambitious programme of electricity reforms to create a more diversified mix of energy sources in the UK, including more renewable and nuclear energy in the longer term.
Our intention is for today's summit to be the start of a much more active engagement with consumers, with us all working harder and faster to deliver an energy market that is trusted, simple and transparent. A market that puts the consumer first and gets these energy bills down as much as possible.
We are determined that everything that can be done will be done to help people bring their energy bills down.
Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of MoneySavingExpert.com.
Martin Lewis, MoneySavingExpert.com creator, will attend today's summit. Please give your feedback, via the link below, so he can take your views to the Prime Minister and Energy Secretary.