REFILE-Labour's Miliband will vow to protect small firms from energy companies -BBC

Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:49pm EDT

Related Topics

(Amends federation acronym in third paragraph, widens to more subscribers)

March 27 (Reuters) - Ed Miliband, the leader of Britain's opposition Labour party, will detail plans on Friday for a regulator to protect small businesses from "unacceptable" treatment by energy firms, the BBC reported, without citing sources.

Under the plan, the new energy regulator will be able to enforce a ban on suppliers from charging firms more expensive tariffs without their consent, and imposing retrospective back-billing for periods of longer than a year.

Miliband will tell the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) that firms should have the same level of protection as consumers, and promise organisations like the FSB legal rights to take cases to court on behalf of their members, the broadcaster said on its website. (link.reuters.com/ryh97v)

The Labour party could not be reached for comment outside of regular business hours.

The news comes on the heels of Britain ordering an anti-trust probe into energy suppliers after finding signs of tacit price coordination. The process, announced on Thursday, could result in the break-up of some of the biggest players including British Gas owner Centrica.

Energy prices in the country have been under intense political scrutiny ahead of a national election next year because of soaring utility bills.

The country's big six suppliers - SSE, Scottish Power, Centrica, RWE npower, E.ON and EDF Energy - control around 95 percent of Britain's energy supply to households and businesses. (Reporting by Richa Naidu in Bangalore; Editing by Richard Pullin)

FILED UNDER: