Hospitality boss demands names of energy regulators and shames suppliers | Business news

The energy watchdog must step in to punish price gouging by energy suppliers, according to the head of a lobby group representing thousands of pubs, restaurants, hotels and gyms across Britain.

In a letter to Ofgem’s chief executive from Kate Nicholls, head of UK Hospitality, seen by Sky News, she calls on the regulator to “name and shame” energy companies that have acted “in bad faith” towards business customers.

Her letter comes ahead of drastic cuts to energy bill support for UK businesses, with the government announcing plans for a revised program days ago.

Ms Nicholls was among the business leaders who met Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, in recent weeks to discuss the government’s energy support package for businesses.

Her intervention underscored the extent of concern among private sector chiefs about a possible price spike, although falling wholesale costs are expected to ease the pain, particularly for households, over the coming months.

In her letter to Jonathan Brearley, she said “a dramatic cut in support for hospitality businesses will be catastrophic for the sector and businesses will inevitably fail”.

She partly blamed “the behavior of energy suppliers in the summer and fall of 2022.”

“Companies were encouraged to move to fixed-price contracts, but could only access very high contract prices,” she wrote.

“In addition to the extortionate prices, well above the wholesale prices, the suppliers have increased the fixed fees, especially the catering companies have asked for high deposits, and some have even canceled the existing contracts.”

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Ms Nicholls called on Ofgem to seek new legislative powers to allow companies to cancel or renegotiate energy contracts, as well as seek appropriate compensation.

She said energy suppliers with customers on fixed contracts “more than double the government’s minimum price should be forced to offer contract renegotiations”.

The hospitality industry boss also called on Mr Brearley to ban the blanket withdrawal of supply tenders across entire sectors.

Speaking separately, Ms Nicholls said the behavior of some energy companies was “nothing short of disgraceful”.

“It is clear that some rogue companies saw the government’s significant intervention to support business as nothing more than a cash cow,” she added.

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