The government has been accused of “falling asleep at the wheel” after an Ofgem director quit, citing concerns the regulator is not effectively protecting struggling households.
Christine Farnish told The Times she resigned believing the regulator had failed “to find the right balance between the interests of consumers and the interests of suppliers”.
The energy regulator has been criticized in recent months for not doing enough to protect families during the global energy crisis.
Ms Farnish, who served on the Ofgem board for a number of years, told the newspaper: “I have resigned from the Ofgem board because I was unable to support an important decision to collect additional supplier costs from consumer bills this winter.”
She said she believes the move will “add several hundred pounds to each bill to support a number of suppliers over the coming months”.
Her resignation is understood to be related to Ofgem’s decision to change the price cap methodology to allow suppliers to recoup some of the high ‘reverse’ energy costs sooner rather than later.
An Ofgem spokesman said: “We are grateful to Christine for her many years of dedicated service to Ofgem.
“As a result of this unprecedented energy crisis, Ofgem is having to make some incredibly difficult decisions that require careful trade-offs to be weighed on an ongoing basis. But we always prioritize the immediate and long-term needs of consumers.
“The rest of the board decided that a shorter recovery period for energy costs is in consumers’ best long-term interests as it reduces the very real risk of suppliers going bust, which would add even more costs to the bills and create unnecessary worry in an anyway very difficult time.”
The resignation comes amid mounting pressure on the government to propose additional measures to combat rising inflation and soaring energy bills.
The issue has overshadowed the race to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister, with both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak repeatedly pressed for their plans to help struggling households.
Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow secretary for climate change, said Ms Farnish’s resignation shows the government is “sleeping at the wheel”.
“For 12 years the Conservatives have completely failed to regulate (the) energy market. In no other country have 32 energy suppliers gone bankrupt.
“We simply cannot allow the British people to suffer another surge in bills. It is unacceptable that the Conservatives should continue to fail to offer solutions to this crisis and oppose Labor’s plan.”
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “We are aware of a resignation on the board of Ofgem which has been accepted.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/ofgem-ed-miliband-government-conservatives-prime-minister-b2147190.html Ofgem director resigns over price cap as Ed Miliband says government is sleeping