Ofgem is failing to prevent energy suppliers from ripping off customers and Britains should unite in forcing prices down, Labour urged at their Manchester conference today.
Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint revealed plans for SwitchTogether aimed at driving down the cost of energy before encouraging customers to switch their tariffs to companies that offer cheaper packages.
And in a move similar to ones in America, Holland and Belgium, the Labour party hope to save customers around £200 a year through the scheme after announcing they would remove Ofgem if voted into power in three years’s time.
“We’ve all seen our bills go through the roof in the past two years, up by £200, and there are more price hikes on their way this winter,” Ms Flint said.
“The Government tells you all to shop around for a better deal. It’s down to you they say, you’re on your own.
“That’s not the Labour way. We believe in cooperation. We know that by the strength of our common endeavour we can achieve more together than we can alone.
“Turning the clock back isn’t the answer but that doesn’t mean things have to stay the way they are.”
The shadow cabinet member insisted that despite Labour not ‘running the country’ the party still had the best intentions for British people and were determined to save them money.
“In America, co-operatives, local councils and community organisations are bringing people together to strike a better deal for their custom,” she added.
“Our sister parties in Belgium and Holland have delivered cheaper energy prices for thousands of people through collective switching. We can do the same.”
She threw down the gauntlet to energy suppliers and claimed that by uniting in power companies will be forced to drop their demands.
She added: “Stand together. Buy energy together. Switch together.
“We reach out to people who are paying too much but alone can’t change that, we can make a difference.”
The scheme will be rolled out in three areas for a trial run and will follow a similar strategy created by Which? magazine whereby customers saved an average of £223 by switching – saving £8million in total.
“When your bills go up, the companies tell us it’s because they are having to pass on their costs,” Ms Flint added.
“So why is it when prices rise do bills go up like a rocket but when they come down they come down like a feather, if at all.
“It’s because they are allowed to run their companies in such a complicated way that it’s virtually impossible to know the true price of energy and that has got to end.
“That’s why we’re calling time on Ofgem. For too long Ofgem hasn’t stood up to the energy giants, it hasn’t enforced its own rules and it’s let the energy companies get away with ripping off hard-pressed families and pensioners.
“We are saying goodbye to Ofgem, we will create a tough new regulator that the public can trust. We are going to open the books, stop the backroom deals, end the secret contracts.
“And if they don’t do it first, we will force them to pass on price cuts.”