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GMB calls for downgrade of OFGEM

Justin Bowden
businesses

“Ofgem has been a toothless wonder for years and has failed to protect consumers, so creating a ‘big five’ energy companies, instead of six, will only make things worse in a market that is already failing every household in the UK”. So says GMB. Contributor Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary for Energy.

GMB, the union for energy workers, is calling on the Labour Party front bench to commit to downgrade Ofgem in line with the Helm report and push for the SSE Npower merger to be blocked. The union has written to Rachel Reeves, chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee and Rebecca Long-Bailey the Shadow Secretary of State for BEIS seeking their support.

Last week GMB wrote to Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, calling on him to use his powers under the Enterprise Act 2002 to block the proposed merger of energy companies SSE and Npower on public interest grounds if the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) didn’t initiate an investigation.

GMB says that turning the big six energy providers into a big five would create ‘a chokehold that is bad for customers, workers and the wider economy, while the union has long called for the abolition of Ofgem.

Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary for Energy said: “GMB is calling on the Labour Party front bench to give a commitment to downgrade Ofgem in line with the recommendations of the Helm report and for their support in bringing pressure to bear on Greg Clark to block the proposed merger between SSE and Npower.

“Ofgem has been a toothless wonder for years and has failed to protect consumers so creating a ‘big five’ energy companies, instead of six, will only make things worse in a market that is already failing every household in the UK. The Helm report exposes in great detail how supposed competition in the energy sector is in fact a mirage and radical overhaul is required if stop our vital infrastructure being damaged and consumers being ripped off.”

“Having a smaller number of big players as a result of a merger between SSE and Npower would only accentuate further the problems in a “cartelised” market without real competition, effective oversight or strong central direction. The Helm report was clear: firstly, it is for the Government to set out an energy policy to guarantee an energy supply that is secure, low carbon and the least expensive without repeating some of the ‘spectacularly bad’ decisions of the past; and secondly, all the operators in the energy sector are effectively contractors which means Ministers have a duty towards the sector beyond that owed to other industries that are genuinely outside of the Government’s control and direction. Any role Ofgem should have be greatly downgraded. GMB calls on Labour front bench to work with us to prevent yet more needless price hikes that are the penalty for a dysfunctional energy market.”

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