How trio of Britain’s biggest power firms are ‘ripping off households’
THREE of the UK’s biggest power firms have ripped off households by over half a billion pounds by gaming National Grid’s systems, it is claimed.
Vitol VPI, Uniper and SSE have been manipulating the electricity market by saying they will power down their generators at peak times, only to then demand a much higher price from the Grid to keep running.
Energy supplies are most under pressure in the evenings, when people cook dinner, turn on lights, and use heating and hot water to bathe.
The Grid sends out requests to power firms for more electricity when its supplies are under pressure and offers a higher payment to generators to step in to the gap.
But some have been announcing they will switch off, often with just a few hours’ notice ahead of the peak times.
Then they earn four times as much by switching back on just hours later to meet the Grid’s anticipated shortfalls.
An investigation by Bloomberg of over 100million market records found these firms have racked up more than £525million in inflated revenues with these tactics.
The grid had to pay £42million on just one cold day last November to traders using their off-on technique.
Simon Francis, of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, said: “This is absolutely outrageous.
“These traders are part of the reason why Britain’s energy system is completely broken.
“These shadowy practices are causing sky-high energy prices for British consumers.
“It is not just ripping off customers, it is ripping off taxpayers as the Government is having to step in to help with energy bill support.
“Disabled people have been unable to afford to charge their wheelchairs because of rocketing electricity prices — and yet these companies are making bumper profits.”
The energy firms say they comply with the regulations, but energy regulator Ofgem has called the allegations “serious”.
An Ofgem spokesman said: “Our first job is to protect consumers, and all attempts by energy companies to exacerbate tight market conditions, whether intentional or not, are in not their interests.
“We are taking action to introduce a new obligation into electricity generation licences.
“This will prohibit generators from affecting the balancing mechanism in this way for excessive financial gain.”
CASH WOE SWIPES AT DATE APPS
RISING household bills have led to a “cost of loving” crisis as romantics cut back their spending on dating apps.
The volume of dating transactions — which includes spending on apps such as Tinder, Hinge and Bumble — fell by a third in February, a survey of more than 2,000 people by Nationwide found.
Overall spending rose by 10 per cent last month, as consumers had to fork out more on utility bills, mortgage payments and food.
To save cash, nearly a quarter of people have cancelled subscriptions, with outlays on TV streaming, music and meal boxes falling by 6 per cent in February.
Stretched finances mean 38 per cent of consumers had to use credit cards to afford essential items before pay day.
Mark Nalder at Nationwide said: “The number worried about their finances has fallen slightly, but there are people relying on credit.”
IT’S ADIOS MY AMIGO
AMIGO LOANS has said it’s winding down its business and will halt all lending after failing to raise capital from investors.
The sub-prime lender had been looking to raise £15million to pay compensation to over 200,000 customers who had been mis-sold products.
Those customers have now been left in the dark.
The financial regulator said it would have fined Amigo nearly £73million — only that might have affected the payouts customers would receive.
DIY GLOOM SIGN
WICKES is the latest retailer to hint that the DIY boom is starting to falter.
The firm posted a 38.4 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to £40.3million last year after it counted £35million of costs relating to its demerger from Travis Perkins.
However, sales grew by 1.8 per cent to a record £1.6billion.
Sales at the start of this year are “moderately behind” a year ago.
Wickes joins B&Q owner Kingfisher in warning profits would be lower again this year as the surge during lockdown begins to fade.
UK JOBS IN CULL
ONE of the world’s biggest consulting firms, Accenture, is cutting around 19,000 jobs.
The company confirmed UK employees will be affected in its human resources, IT, finance and marketing teams, but did not say how many.
It has around 11,000 workers in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Leeds.
Accenture is shutting offices globally to cut costs by £1.2billion.
Thousands of jobs have already been axed by big tech companies including Meta, Amazon and Google.
THE owner of 32Red, the Kindred Group, has been fined £7.1million and given a warning by the Gambling Commission for doing only “superficial” checks on vulnerable customers — and not doing enough to monitor for money laundering.
FALLS COST LLOYD’S £3BN
LLOYD’S of London, the world’s biggest insurance exchange, has booked £3.1billion of losses on falling government bond values and share prices in the past year.
The insurer revealed it would also have to set aside £1.1billion to cover Ukraine-related claims, lifting its likely war bill to £1.4billion.
The claims, which are related to disruption to supply chains, war damage and sanctions, are still well below the typical cost it would face from US hurricane payouts.
Lloyds suffered a £769million loss for 2022, dropping from a £2.3billion profit the year before.
The insurer is famous for its avant-garde “inside out” headquarters in the City, which has external lifts and stairs. Its roots date back to the 1600s.
CITY firms Cenkos and finnCap have agreed a £43million merger.
They will now have 230 UK staff.
The deal comes four months after a takeover attempt of finnCap by another rival, Panmure Gordon, broke down over price.
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