The Energy Consultants Association (ECA), as a steadfast advocate for energy consultants and intermediaries, we offer our preliminary stance on Ofgem’s Non-Domestic Market review.
Our commitment to representing and safeguarding the interests of the energy consultancy sector remains resolute.
This initial review delves into our observations and perspectives on Ofgem’s regulatory endeavours within the non-domestic sector and the effect it might have on our members.
Addressing Micro Business Regulations
Recent strides by Ofgem in introducing fee disclosure and an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme for micro businesses certainly deserve attention.
The ECA recognises the importance of providing avenues for customer redress in cases of subpar service.
However, we firmly assert that the expansion of such measures to include non-micro businesses demands substantial evidence and thoughtful consideration.
Ofgem’s Evidence Gap
Crucially, Ofgem’s approach lacks evidence-based calculations demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of addressing areas of broker harm in comparison to introducing so-called “remedies.”
The absence of proper empirical substantiation casts doubt on the rationale behind their regulatory decisions.
A Closer Look at ADR
The infancy of the ADR scheme is not without its challenges.
Feedback from several ECA members highlights concerns regarding suboptimal decision-making, inadequate handling of tactical evidence withholding by suppliers, and excessive cost awards that exceed legal entitlement.
Our members’ limited involvement in the scheme’s setup emphasises the need for judicious evaluation before contemplating its expansion.
Fee Disclosure Dilemma
While the ECA supports improved levels of transparency and consumer protection, Ofgem’s inclination towards broader fee disclosure raises pertinent questions.
The ECA’s members express reservations regarding the potential pitfalls of such a move.
While fee disclosure for brokers could inadvertently create an anti-competitive environment that steers customers towards direct end supplier deals, there remains an unconvincing demonstration of the benefits against the backdrop of market distortion and skewed outcomes.
Impact on Brokers and Suppliers
A notable consequence of recent negative PR and regulatory changes is the potential impact on the relationship between consultants and energy suppliers.
The wave of scrutiny and misinformation has led to scenarios where some customers, having benefited from the work of consultants and brokers, are now engaging directly with suppliers.
This shift not only undermines the role of brokers but also poses challenges for energy suppliers in terms of customer acquisition and satisfaction.
The Call for Comprehensive Change
The ECA implores Ofgem to tread thoughtfully, factoring in the legal ramifications and theories of harm.
The proposed changes, in our view, have the potential to amplify anti-competitive conditions without a thorough assessment of their implications.
Shifting the Focus
Our stance underscores the importance of addressing more pressing concerns.
We advocate for Ofgem to shift its attention towards reducing data access costs, fostering robust anti-fraud hubs, and holding suppliers accountable for their conduct.
A critical examination of Ofgem’s regulatory actions, such as those concerning companies like BES, highlights the need for alignment between focus and impact.
Championing Brokers’ Role
Brokers play a pivotal role in helping UK companies navigate the energy landscape and achieve cost savings.
Our call to Ofgem echoes the sentiment of our members – to prioritise efforts in fostering access to valuable services and encouraging switching practices.
This focus on tangible benefits far outweighs regulatory measures introduced in the absence of conclusive evidence of harm.
The ECA’s voice resonates with the call for well-founded regulatory decisions that bolster the energy industry’s vitality.
Our commitment to professionalism, accuracy, and the interests of energy consultants and intermediaries remains unwavering.
As we navigate this intricate landscape, the ECA reinforces its mission to drive real change where it matters most – for the benefit of all stakeholders in the UK energy industry.
Become A Member
As a unified voice, the Energy Consultants Association (ECA) will pave the way for the future success of our industry, ensuring the security and longevity of our sector, while prioritising exceptional outcomes for our clients.
To begin the membership process, please fill out this form on our website, including your annual turnover information. Upon submission, you will receive a welcome membership pack, including your ECA membership badge files, and an invoice reflecting your chosen membership level.
Businesses that secure membership within the next 30 days will be classified as “Founding Members” and will receive a Founding Members badge to display on their digital platforms.
Remember, the more members we have, the stronger our collective voice becomes in shaping the future of our sector. Together, we can drive positive change and create an environment that supports growth and success for all.
We appreciate your ongoing support and dedication.
Should you have any questions or require further assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out.