Ofgem director quits with energy price cap set to soar past £5,000 next year

Ofgem director quits with energy price cap set to soar past £5,000 next year
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Jamie  Micklethwaite

By Jamie Micklethwaite

Published: 17/08/2022

- 20:24

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 10:44

The energy regulator has been slammed for not doing enough to protect families during the energy crisis

The Government has been accused of being “asleep at the wheel” after an Ofgem director quit, citing concerns the regulator is failing to effectively protect struggling households.

Christine Farnish told The Times she resigned in the belief the watchdog has not “struck the right balance between the interests of consumers and the interests of suppliers”.

The energy regulator has faced criticism in recent months for not doing enough to protect families during the global energy crisis.

Ms Farnish, who served on the Ofgem board for several years, told the paper: “I resigned from the Ofgem board because I could not support a key decision to recover additional supplier costs from consumer bills this winter.”

She said she believes the move will “add several hundred pounds to everyone’s bill in order to support a number of suppliers in the coming months”.

It is understood her resignation is linked to Ofgem’s decision to change the methodology of the price cap to allow suppliers to recover some of the high energy “backwardation” costs sooner rather than later.

A handheld smart meter on a kitchen hob showing the cost of a year-to-date's worth of home energy usage in a home in Dorset. Picture date: Sunday April 24, 2022.
The country is facing an energy crisis
Yui Mok

An Ofgem spokesman said: “We are thankful to Christine for her many years of devoted service to Ofgem.

“Due to this unprecedented energy crisis, Ofgem is having to make some incredibly difficult decisions where carefully balanced trade-offs are being weighed up all the time. But we always prioritise consumers’ needs both in the immediate and long term.

“The rest of the board decided a shorter recovery period for energy costs was in the best interest of consumers in the long term by reducing the very real risk of suppliers going bust, which would heap yet more costs on to bills and add unnecessary worry and concern at an already very difficult time.”

The resignation comes amid mounting pressure on the Government to bring forward extra measures to tackle surging inflation and rising energy bills.

Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband
Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband
Stefan Rousseau

The issue has overshadowed the race to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, with both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak being repeatedly pressed on their plans to help struggling households.

Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow climate change secretary, said Ms Farnish’s resignation shows the Government is “asleep at the wheel”.

“For 12 years, the Conservatives have totally failed to regulate (the) energy market. In no other country has 32 energy suppliers gone bust.

“We simply cannot allow the British people to suffer a further increase in bills. It is intolerable that the Conservatives continue to offer no solutions to this crisis, and oppose Labour’s plan.”

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said: “We are aware of a resignation at the board of Ofgem, which has been accepted.”

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