UK: Hospitality chief demands energy regulator “names and shames”

According to the leader of the lobbying group that represents thousands of pubs, restaurants, hotels, and gyms around Britain, the energy watchdog must intervene to punish energy suppliers for price-gouging behaviour.

Kate Nicholls, the CEO of UK Hospitality, asks the regulator to “name and shame” energy suppliers that have behaved “in bad faith” with business consumers in a letter to the chief executive of Ofgem​. ​

Her letter was published just days after the government announced plans for a redesigned programme, which will drastically reduce funding for energy costs for British firms.

Ms. Nicholls was one of the company executives who met with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt recently to discuss the government’s corporate energy support programme.

Her participation highlights the level of worry among private sector executives about a prospective price increase, even though declining wholesale costs are anticipated to lessen the pain in the upcoming months, especially for households.

The “dramatic fall in funding for hospitality firms will be catastrophic for the sector and enterprises will undoubtedly perish,” she wrote in a letter to Jonathan Brearley.

She attributed some of this to “the actions of energy suppliers in the summer and fall of 2022.”

Businesses were urged to switch to fixed-price agreements, but they could only access extremely high contracted rates, according to what she wrote.

Suppliers increased standing charges, demanded exorbitant deposits from hospitality organisations in particular, and in some cases even cancelled existing contracts in addition to charging extortionate rates that were significantly higher than wholesale prices.

Ms. Nicholls encouraged Ofgem to seek greater legislative authority so that companies could terminate or renegotiate energy contracts and demand fair compensation.

Energy providers, according to her, should be required to provide contract renegotiations to customers who are on fixed contracts with them at a price that is “more than double the government’s floor price.”

The head of the hotel sector pleaded with Mr. Brearley to outlaw the general withdrawal of supplier quotes from whole industries.

In a separate interview, Ms. Nicholls claimed that some energy corporations’ actions had been “nothing short of appalling.”

She continued, “It’s obvious that some rogue businesses viewed the massive government assistance to support business as nothing more than a cash cow.

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