Ofgem asks energy firms to publish all tariffs, after Martin Lewis letter
Energy regulator Ofgem has asked suppliers to clearly publish details of all of their energy tariffs to make it easier for households to understand if a fixed deal is worth switching to. It comes after MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis wrote a letter to Ofgem boss Jonathan Brearley urging him to ensure suppliers publish existing customer-only fixes for all to see.
Unlike open-market tariffs, with tariffs for existing customers there's no incentive for suppliers to publish the deal, or make it available on comparison websites, so it's hard for people to compare and for consumer help websites such as MSE to give analysis to help people make the best decisions around switching.
Martin first raised this issue with Ofgem several months ago, and followed it up with a formal letter last month. Suppliers have started to bring back short-lived competitive fixed deals for existing customers, so action is needed quickly.
Martin: 'This is not an issue that can wait'
Within the letter, Martin wrote: "All of these so far are opaque, existing customer-only deals. This is causing a lack of scrutiny that I would ask Ofgem to urgently remedy, to avoid consumer detriment. There's no incentive for firms to publish the fact they're offering a tariff, never mind the average rate, or the most useful full region-by-region price list of standing charges and unit rates. In practice, this means many don't publish these deals.
"This makes it near-impossible for consumer help organisations to gather information and provide adequate guidance on deals. Right now, we're having to rely on crowdsourcing from consumers willing to forward us bills. It is a slow, laborious, incomplete process, which leaves the information lacking and it just isn't fit for purpose.
"The best thing would be to immediately change regulations to ensure firms are required to clearly publish the rate books of all tariffs being offered to consumers, including existing customer-only deals. This would ensure there's proper transparency and scrutiny, to help aid consumers to make decisions.
"Yet I understand regulatory and rule changes can be long and cumbersome, and require consultation. So in the meantime, I would ask that Ofgem puts out as strong guidance as is possible to energy firms that they should 'voluntarily' do this. This is not an issue that can wait."
Ofgem: 'We're asking suppliers to clearly publish all their domestic tariffs'
The request to share all tariffs came in a letter from Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley to energy companies which set out clear expectations on financial resilience and how they should support consumers going forward.
An Ofgem spokesperson said: "An energy sector where companies can make a reasonable profit is important to create a sustainable and competitive market for consumers. However, a return to the practices we saw before the energy crisis isn't on the table – suppliers must reciprocate the support the sector was given by consumers and taxpayers when wholesale prices increased by behaving responsibly as prices fall and profits return.
"The energy market has changed. Ofgem has introduced major changes to the market, and we need suppliers to learn the lessons of the energy crisis and play their part by making sure they're financially robust, can absorb potential losses and are meeting our new capital requirements. I expect no return to paying out dividends before a supplier has met those essential capital requirements.
"We will closely monitor the situation, including to make sure that the market is operating competitively on price alongside customer service and innovative products, and to make sure that suppliers are meeting their obligations to the most vulnerable. As a first step, we are asking suppliers to clearly publish all their domestic tariffs to provide customers and third-party intermediaries with complete transparency."
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert, said: "I am grateful to Ofgem for listening to our call to try and make the energy fixing market more transparent. As I said in my letter, I understand the difficulties in bringing in new regulation. But at least this request means it is on the radar and firms know it will be frowned upon if they don't publish the tariff info. We have already started to receive some commitments from the big firms they will do this.
"We will of course continue to monitor if this ask from Ofgem is working. If not, we will push for this to be moved from guidance into regulation to ensure all firms fulfil their obligation."
What energy deals are available right now and who can get them?
Fixed energy deals are slowly returning, and some are worth considering. Based on current predictions, a fixed deal under July's Price Cap (£2,074 a year on typical use) looks to be a decent deal, while anything on or just above it could be worth considering if you value price certainty. Current deals include:
- Existing customers deals. From British Gas, EDF, E.on, Utility Warehouse, So Energy, Octopus Energy and Ovo.
- New customer deals. Including open-market deals from British Gas and So Energy, and a complex deal from Utility Warehouse.
We're expecting more open-market deals to launch in the coming weeks. For the latest updates, including our analysis of all the existing customer tariffs we know about, and a full rundown of who can get them, see our Is it time to fix your energy? guide.