Their excuses are predictable

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In my last column I told readers that I was one of the select committee of MPs about to question the bosses of some of the UK’s leading energy companies about recent rises in gas and electricity charges.

That meeting was duly held I can now report with mixed results. Firstly what disappointed me enormously was that only one chief executive of the companies bothered to attend, which I felt was not just an insult to the committee and Parliament but the millions of customers who deserve answers about why they felt the need to raise charges yet again at the start of another winter.

Of course they trotted out the predictable excuses – a rise of the wholesale costs of gas and electricity, increased transport costs as well as the ‘green’ taxes they most pay.

Most interestingly, however, the boss of one of the smaller companies said he could not understand the approach of the ‘big boys’ because he is currently paying less for gas then he did four years ago.

He admitted he believed the big companies are charging what they believe they can get away with when customers are so reluctant to switch suppliers – a damning indictment if ever there was one.

David Cameron and the energy secretary have been making what they no doubt believe are the right noises by saying there needs to be more competition and that it must be made easier for people.

The truth is that they are playing ‘catch-up’ to Ed Miliband’s assertion that the next Labour government would freeze prices for 20 months if elected in 2015.

– a move that will be welcomed by millions of people facing the prospect of a long cold winter as they struggle to meet their energy bills.