A cap on fuel bills could be introduced for the first time in more than a decade amid rising concern that customers are being ripped off by the Big Six energy firms, the regulator Ofgem has told The Independent.
The dominant companies - EDF, E.on, British Gas, Scottish and Southern, Scottish Power and Npower - will have to overhaul their confusing and expensive tariffs this year to escape tougher action, it said.
One solution is a Competition Commission inquiry into the whole industry which could force a break-up of its dominant players, who have 99 per cent of the market. The other is imposing price controls for the first time since 2002 - potentially affecting all 22 million households in Britain. Ofgem said: "Parliament has given us the task of trying to create an effective market where competition is the downward pressure on prices. We think that's the way to go, although we haven't ruled out regulation, particularly for more vulnerable customers, if our reforms don't work."