Martin Lewis says Ofgem proposals to strengthen checks on existing energy companies are 'long overdue'

Gas and electricity suppliers could face checks on their customer service and finances under reforms unveiled by the energy watchdog, Ofgem.

Martin Lewis, founder of and Cheap Energy Club, said: “These proposed changes are long overdue. The problem here is political posturing to push competition on the energy market, while well meaning, was rushed through, ill-thought-out, and therefore done without the necessary checks and balances needed to make competition work.

“Too many small energy firms were then able to launch on a wing and a prayer. Many clearly didn’t have the skills, financial backing or customer service support needed to run a firm providing a near public good.

“It was in March last year, in conversation with the Ofgem boss, that I first warned him that under-regulated small firms who no one should touch were perversely the biggest threat to competition. Too many people have been burnt by poorly managed small companies, and that has knocked many people’s faith in energy switching, and risks ultimately driving them back to the same big companies the hope was that they’d escape from.

“A few months ago we were delighted to see Ofgem introduce those checks for new firms – now it is important that similar rules are put in place for existing firms that were already set up before those changes came into being.”