Labour Pledge To Get Tough With Energy Firms
Energy companies' licences could be revoked by a new regulator to help protect the interests of the public under a Labour government, the party has announced.
Shadow energy and climate change secretary Caroline Flint said the current Government had helped create a "broken energy market".
And she said Labour would give a tough new regulator the power to cancel energy firms' licences if they repeatedly commit the most "serious and deliberate breaches of their licence conditions which harm the interests of consumers".
Figures show energy companies have continued to "mistreat their customers" and face another 16 investigations into mis-selling, poor customer service and other bad practice.
This comes despite Ofgem issuing 30 fines, worth a total of more than £87m, since 2001.
Ms Flint said Labour's reforms would see the regulator producing an annual scorecard for energy suppliers, reporting on the firm's performance and identifying areas of concern.
She claimed household energy bills had risen twice as fast as inflation and four times as fast as wages since 2010 - and that UK energy prices had risen faster than almost anywhere else in the developed world since Labour lost office.
"The public have a right to be treated fairly by energy companies," she said.
"Where firms fail to meet these standards, there must be tough and decisive action. Too often energy companies seem to view the regulator's fines as a cost of doing business - not as a warning to get their act together."
She insisted that Ofgem's current powers to revoke a supplier's licence did not go far enough.
Ms Flint told Sky News: "They can revoke a licence if a company doesn't pay a fine or comply with an order.
"What we're saying is if there is persistent evidence that they continue to deliberately undermine their customers through bad practice, then all these things should be taken into account."
Labour says information disclosed by Ofgem under the Freedom of Information Act, shows it currently has 12 investigations ongoing and a further four at informal review stage.
Responding, a Conservative spokesman said: "We'll take no lectures from the party that brought Britain's economy to its knees.
"Labour left our country with a broken energy market and huge taxes on bills - meaning the number of people in fuel poverty nearly doubled in Labour's last five years.
"We're carrying out a full, independent inquiry to fix the broken market we inherited. And we're forcing energy companies to simplify bills so people can be sure they are getting the best deal."
An Ofgem spokesperson said: "Ofgem is always interested to work with government on any new powers or refinements to existing powers which would help to further protect consumers.
"Ofgem does currently have powers to revoke licences in certain specific circumstances including where companies have failed to comply with particular enforcement orders we have set requiring them to change or stop behaviours."