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UK energy regulator to take ‘bold action’ over price cap as crisis deepens

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UK energy regulator to take ‘bold action’ over price cap as crisis deepens

The energy industry regulator is poised to take “bold action” to overhaul the price cap protecting millions of households from rocketing bills as suppliers face a deepening energy crisis this winter.

In an open letter to the industry, Ofgem promised to open a consultation on how the energy price cap is calculated as soon as next month to make sure that it allows suppliers to recover their costs.

The regulator did not suggest any specific changes in the letter but the industry is expected to take the opportunity to call for the price cap, which changes only twice a year, to be more responsive to swings in the market by changing as often as once every quarter.

“These are challenging times, requiring bold action,” Jonathan Brearley, the chief executive of Ofgem, wrote.

This would be the first major change made to the price cap, which was introduced in early 2019 to protect households from unfair energy bills through a maximum cap based on the costs of buying and supplying gas and electricity.

The energy crisis, which has led to record market prices across the globe, has caused these costs to outpace the price cap updates, triggering the collapse of 13 energy suppliers in the last seven weeks, with many more expected to follow this winter.

Alongside Ofgem’s plan to alter the price cap, it will also begin “raising the bar” on its standards for energy supplier finances to ensure they offer “a sustainable business model” that minimises risks to consumers.

Ofgem also plans to underline its expectations on how suppliers must help households that are struggling to pay their bills by offering debt payment plans or other financial support “to their most vulnerable consumers”.

Brearley said the “unprecedented and unexpected rise in gas and electricity prices over recent months has put energy markets under severe strain”.

He said: “As this period of uncertainty continues, and the pressure on the sector grows, we are taking steps to protect the short- and long-term interests of consumers, providing greater certainty for investors and strengthening the resilience of the sector.”

The regulator plans to consult on changes in November and expects to bring in its changes as soon as February before the next energy price rise predicted for April. Up to 15 million households faced one of the steepest bill increases on record this month after Ofgem lifted the cap on standard tariffs by about 12.5%.

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Business

35 illegal tax collectors facing prosecution in Benue

The Acting Chairman of the Benue State Internal Revenue Service (BIRS), Emmanuel Agena, has revealed that 35 persons involved in illegal tax collection in the state are currently facing prosecution.

Agena announced that the agency has set an ambitious target to generate over N16 billion in revenue for the year 2024 following the successful surpassing of its N14 billion target in 2023.

Speaking to journalists on Monday, Agena expressed concern over the activities of illegal tax collectors in the state, noting that many of them were supported by influential personalities.

He stated that his administration at the BIRS had put an end to the era of patronage by politicians, aiming to significantly reduce illegal tax collection activities.

The BIRS boss also condemned a recent incident in which a truck carrying palliatives from Adamawa to Anambra State was hijacked by youths in Aliade, Gwer East.

He disclosed that three suspects have been arrested in connection with the incident.

“A truck was intercepted and the driver beaten while the windscreen of the vehicle broken and over N200,000 was stolen.

“Three persons have been arrested and are in police custody. They will be moved to DSS for thorough investigation.

“We aim to flush out or reduce illegal tax collectors to the barest minimum. Already, 35 people who engaged in illegal tax collection were arrested and facing prosecution.

“This has been a big challenge. We have constituted a team headed by the director of Tax collection. Prominent people in the state are involved in encouraging these boys,” he stated.

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Nigeria’s Inflation rate hits 33.20% in March- NBS

The National Bureau of Statistics NBS says Nigeria’s inflation rate jumped to 33.20% in March 2024 compared to February 2024 headline inflation rate which was 31.70%.

A report released by the NBS on Monday, April 15, reads

“Looking at the movement, the March 2024 headline inflation rate showed an increase of 1.50% points when compared to the February 2024 headline inflation rate.

“On a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 11.16% points higher compared to the rate recorded in March 2023, which was 22.04%. On a month-on-month basis, the headline inflation rate in March 2024 was 3.02%, which was 0.10% lower than the rate recorded in February 2024 (3.12%).

“This means that in the month of March 2024, the rate of increase in the average price level is less than the rate of increase in the average price level in February 2024.”

 

The inflation report by the NBS followed the hike of Nigeria’s interest rate from 22.75% to 24.75% by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The March inflation rate was released at a time when measures by the apex bank to strenghten the naira against foreign exchange have seen some positive results.

The naira has appreciated against the dollar in recent weeks, gaining over 40%, from about N1,900/$ to about N1,100/$1 now.

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NAFDAC seals popular Supermarket in Ibadan

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) has sealed a popular groceries and cosmetics supermarket, Pinnacle in Dugbe area of Ibadan over sale of fake products.

The supermarket, usually a beehive of activities was now a shadow of itself as the gate leading to the premises was shut with an inscription directing customers to its branch at Challenge.

Management of the supermarket cited technical issues as reason for its closure.

An inside source who pleaded for anonymity however revealed that problem started on Tuesday, 2nd April , 2024 when NAFDAC surveillance team stormed the mall to enforce total shutdown of the premises, thereby forcing shoppers out of the supermarket.

“The NAFDAC team came inside the mall and told us to close, even though people were many inside who wanted to do shopping but they couldn’t because the technical issue started and they all went away in disappointment”, the source said.

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