A better energy market can be created without the need for price caps

It did not take the energy companies long after the general election to push up prices. British Gas has raised electricity charges for more than three million customers by 12.5 per cent and it would be no great surprise if its rivals did not follow suit, given the way the market operates.

Centrica, the owners, who kept prices down when competitors put them up in the spring, say it was their first rise in four years. But that is little consolation to consumers facing renewed income pressures. The average annual dual-fuel bill for British Gas will rise by £76, to £1,120, though help will be offered to more than 200,000 vulnerable customers.

During the election campaign, both major parties were committed to capping prices but the Conservatives sensibly dropped the plan from the Queen’s Speech. Instead, the energy regulator Ofgem is to explore better ways of moving customers stuck on the poorest…

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