Energy MPs in the House of Commons have endorsed strong industry criticism that the Competition Authority’s proposed solution to imperfect markets and flawed competition in the UK energy retail supply industry is against the public interest.
Now the MPs on the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee has written to new Business & Energy Secretary Greg Clark to raise concerns that the CMA’s remedy to reverse changes to the Confidence Code on Price Comparison Websites could undermine consumer trust and disadvantage smaller suppliers harming competition.
The Committee is urging the Government not to implement the recommendation.
Angus MacNeil, the SNP MP who is chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, said:
“Price comparison websites must do what they say on the tin. Consumers expect price comparison sites to shine a light on the whole market, not keep them in the dark and push them into commission earning deals.”
Competition Authority plan for commission-based price-comparison energy websites is not in public interest
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The previous Energy and Climate Change Committee published a report on price comparison websites in 2015.(http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmenergy/899/899.pdf)
This warned that consumers were being misled into switching to deals that were not the cheapest available on the market.
Following this, the energy regulator Ofgem published a revised Code for Price Comparison Websites (PCWs) in March 2015. The revised code stated that the Price Comparison service provider must include price comparisons for all available domestic tariffs as a default.
The Competition and Market Authority (CMA) has recommended that Ofgem remove the ‘Whole of the Market Requirement’ in the ‘Confidence Code’—in effect reversing the change made by Ofgem following the previous Committee’s report. This will allow PCWs to show a smaller range of tariffs. The CMA argues “any adverse unintended consequences arising from the removal of the Whole of the Market Requirement will be mitigated by Citizens Advice’s market-wide non-transactional price comparison tool”.