Senior officials 'admit Theresa May’s energy cap could be shelved'

Posted On: 
22nd October 2017

Theresa May’s plan to cap energy bills may not go ahead after evidence has emerged that civil servants are preparing for it to be dropped next year.

Gas The Conservatives said they would cap standard variable tariffs in government
PA Images

The Independent has revealed that ministers may shelve the pledge to bring down high prices for consumers if they believe the “Big Six” energy firms are doing enough to tackle the problem.

Last month the Prime Minister was urged by around 200 MPs, including 70 Tories in an open letter, to fulfil the party’s election pledge to cap bills for those on standard variable tariffs.

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However the paper claims to have been passed a transcript of a phone call exchange between an energy investor and an official at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who admits that the Draft Bill could be dropped early next year.

The official said: “There will be a decision point from the Secretary of State, based on the state of the market and the process made by Ofgem [energy regulator] on its cap, on whether there is any need for a Bill.”

Asked whether the whole process could be halted if energy companies scrap the ‘standard variable tariffs’, the official said: “Yes.”

They added: “Ministers will take a view on whether to proceed on the basis of progress in the market and any announcements by suppliers – but they would need to be highly effective.”

The paper also quotes a Conservative insider, who said: “It could very easily be delayed, put off because the companies give a little ground, pushed back and pushed back again, until there is no time. And not everyone would shed tears about it.”

Conservative MP John Penrose, who recently led the cross-party letter to Business Secretary Greg Clark said the Government needed to take formal action against the tariffs.

“If these Big Six proposals are simply a re-naming of rip-off default tariffs then they’re just a con. I can’t believe that anyone would be so easily fooled by it," he said.