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Big 6 Face New Freedom Of Information Disclosures

big 6 energy companiesThe Liberal Democrats have proposed the biggest change to the Freedom of Information Act since its formation in 2000 heralding a major new era of transparency for the Big 6 energy companies.

Announcing the proposal Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem Justice Minister said:

“I want to . . . open up the information about the way public services, and other services given to the public, are run.

“This is about catching [the] … big fish it is right to bring into scope …. the Big 6 energy companies.

“The question is whether we ought not to use FOI to hold to account people who are serious contributors to … bills and in which there is a huge … interest in making sure they are behaving accountably.

“The public have a serious interest in knowing that they are getting their money’s worth and the job is being done properly and safety is being applied.

“I want to push forward significant changes to open up the information about the way that public services and other services given to the public are run.”

Hughes justified his party’s move by accusing some private sector companies of being mono­polistic or what he euphemistically described as being “surrogate public authority providers”.

Under the proposal the Big 6 energy companies could be forced to reveal unprecedented levels of data including their ownership structures however convoluted, their tax affairs, segmented cost bases, and even details of individual bonuses paid to staff and why their bills are at the level they are.

Hughes also promised that the unprecedented access to such a level of information would help to hold Ofgem to account if their failure to take action was proven.

As a precursor to the findings of the CMA investigation into the energy market Hughes’ proposal comes at both a controversial and welcome time. This will be the first test of the coalition government’s commitment to improving the energy market following the announcement of the CMA probe.

Plenty of interest is set to follow. The wagons are circling with or without a conclusive CMA finding.

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