UK Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg faced Breakfast TV cameras this morning to announce government proposals re our fuel bills.
The energy industry was privatised by a previous Conservative government which has left customers paying a variety of charges. Whilst it was applauded by some many had qualms. In some ways it has proved to be good for UK householders but not as competitive as had been hoped. After all there are still only so many energy providers and suppliers.
Since privatisation of UK energy it has proved quite a battle to get the best deal. Each supplier has a range of tariffs. You may find that the tariff you opted for last year, which was brilliant then, is now the pits. You can change your provider but for some vulnerable householders this is not as easy as it could be. Securing the best deal around often needs the use of a computer and the Internet in order to "shop around".
Mr Clegg was interviewed on UK Breakfast TV April 11, 2012, explaining proposals which should hep energy customers get the best value for their money. The latest government initiative will mean that energy providers have to issue an update once a year regarding the best value deal available to its customers. Vulnerable customers, such as those living on a limited invalidity income or the elderly will receive a statement twice a year.
In theory this sounds a brilliant idea and it will help many. It may however confuse some customers and it will not cost the companies involved nothing, will it? The statements will have to involve the use of hard copy which will be far from eco friendly or cost free.
Will this mean that any associated costs will be passed down to customers and the prices be less attractive?
Mr Clegg claimed customers could save around £100 a year. He said, "We have secured a landmark deal with the six big energy companies who cover 99% of customers, to give customers a guaranteed offer of the best tariff for them."Right now, seven out of 10 customers are on the wrong tariff for their needs, so are paying too much. "Yet people rarely switch, despite the fact some families could save up to £100 a year. "There are currently over 120 different tariffs, making it very difficult to know where to start. That is going to change. "As of this autumn, your supplier will have to contact you with the best tariff for your needs - and if you call them, they'll have to offer you the best deal too."
Nick Clegg is a good speaker and the way he explained the changes they did sound positive. Of course the interviewers ciould not wait to get to the thorny issues of internet freedom and snooping by the authorities. Clegg may be a good speaker, and perhaps a genuine man, but you could see he was prepared but not happy to discuss the subject.
Having previously denied any knowledge of the government internet snooping plans, yesterday's announcement by Tory PM David Cameron that Mr Clegg and members of his party were well aware of the changes, Nick is in a sticky position. It was not hard to see that he was uncomfortable but he bluffed it out. In the end Mr Clegg said that he and his party accepted that some changes may be necessary but they would not allow the implementation of Draconian measures.
Well Mr Clegg, we shall soon see if you can put your money where your mouth is, won't we?
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog