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The broken promise that could have helped millions

This is an article for the South Wales Evening Post

Failure to secure a majority in the House of Commons can often be a valid excuse for not delivering on an election promise, but when there is cross-party support and overwhelming backing for a proposal in the House of Commons, the abandonment of a popular proposal makes no sense whatsoever.

That is certainly the case with the government’s manifesto pledge to cap energy prices. No sooner had Theresa May stepped back over the threshold of Number 10 Downing Street than the idea had been shelved.

It is not surprising therefore that the PM is facing a significant backlash from rebellious Conservative MPs, who are feeling a little miffed that the 17 million British people who stood to benefit from the cap have been abandoned to the oligopolistic power companies.

It is noteworthy that weeks after the General Election, British Gas hiked prices by 12.5 per cent for 3.1 million customers, which led to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy saying they were “concerned” the price rise would hit many people already on poor value tariffs”. It now means that all the “Big Six” energy companies have increased bills for consumers this year:

MPs are demanding that Theresa May extends Ofgem’s proposals to introduce a price cap on bills for 2.5 million vulnerable consumers so that all the 17 million originally promised a cap during the election campaign will benefit.

However, while these proposals are a step in the right direction, it is clear more must be done to protect the further 15 million households who continue to be preyed on by the Big Six energy firms.

A cap was promised in the three leading party manifestos, and a temporary, relative price cap has support from most of the 'challenger' energy firms. These are the insurgents who are challenging the dominance of the Big Six incumbents, and who are providing choice and stronger competition, which will benefit consumers.

It is time for this promise to be kept.

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