Government lacks faith in free market, says energy boss
The boss of British Gas owner Centrica has said some people at the heart of the Conservative government “don’t believe in free markets”.
Iain Conn, Centrica’s chief executive, was defending the energy industry after the Tories indicated they planned to include a cap on some household energy bills in their election manifesto.
Centrica shares were hit on Monday by the proposed price cap.
Mr Conn told the BBC he was “concerned” about the government’s approach.
“I think there are some at the heart of the government who just don’t believe in free markets,” he said.
“And I find that concerning at a time when this market is highly competitive and the UK is seeking to forge a new future relying upon free trade with the rest of the world.”
Conservative ministers have said they need to intervene because many households are paying too much for their energy bills.
The manifesto pledge would outline plans to cap bills for seven out of 10 households paying standard variable tariffs, which are often criticised as bad deals for consumers by industry watchdogs.
A Conservative spokesman said: “Our manifesto will be announced in due course – but you can expect us to be introducing new policies in this area.
“We are prepared to intervene when markets are not working for ordinary working families and that is certainly true for expensive and unfair standard energy tariffs.”
Reports have suggested the Tories could seek to cut gas and electricity costs by £100 a year for 17 million families.