Citizens Advice Response to Ofgem Forward Work Programme 2022/23 Consultation
Citizens Advice welcomes the opportunity to comment on Ofgem’s work plan for the period 2022-2023. Overall, we are pleased to see the continuation of Ofgem’s key strategic change programmes, as well as an overarching commitment to help deliver the UK and devolved governments’ net zero targets.
The year ahead follows one of significant turmoil experienced in the energy sector, with millions of customers affected by supplier failures and all of us facing a generational high in energy prices, driven by high wholesale gas prices. This coincides with rising prices across the economy, falling incomes for many people who rely on benefits and a background of intense geopolitical uncertainty. Sadly, regulatory decisions made over many years allowed significant risks to develop, which left the retail market in a much weaker position than it should have been when prices began to rise.
More positively, we are seeing accelerating take up of low carbon technologies - particularly electric vehicles and smart devices - that will help to deliver on our net zero goals and to reshape the market over the next decade.
Given this context, it is hard to overstate the challenges facing Ofgem. In the year ahead we think the regulator should focus on three key aims:
Ensuring people are supported through a period of increased financial vulnerability
Rebuilding consumer trust by improving resilience and stability in the market
Continuing a fair transition to a net zero energy market at lowest cost
We welcome Ofgem’s recognition that, due to the lasting effects of the covid pandemic and energy market turmoil, this work plan will need to remain flexible and responsive. We encourage Ofgem to work closely with government and other stakeholders - including Citizens Advice - to ensure that consumers are protected against unfair outcomes. As we deliver our own consumer work plan for 2022/23 we will seek to work together wherever possible and avoid duplication of effort.
We also recognise the significant pressure that recent events have placed on Ofgem staff and resources. To meet this challenge, Ofgem must manage its work in an agile manner in order to ensure each strategic area can progress over the coming year.
We look forward to seeing further detail on each of Ofgem's strategic plans, including its intentions for resourcing and structuring its work.