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Should energy firms be renationalised?

The so-called Big Six energy firms in the UK have received a great deal of media attention recently, particularly with regard to the prices they charge consumers for their tariffs.

In light of this, head of independent energy supplier Ecotricity Dale Vince, has written a piece in the Mirror arguing that privatisation of the industry - as spearheaded by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher - has failed, which raises the question of whether or not firms in the sector should be renationalised.

Mr Vince's comments follow the recent announcement that energy regulatory body Ofgem is set to launch an investigation into the conduct of the Big Six providers, with proceedings expected to take up to 18 months.

However, Mr Vince is of the opinion the problem stems from the privatisation of the sector, suggesting renationalisation may help to solve some of the issues.

He said: "The mass sell-off of state-owned assets created a dysfunctional market."

This has led to the majority of the Big Six being owned by foreign buyers, with EDF Energy for instance, being controlled by the French government. Mr Vince pointed out this means they are interested in making profits, but are not necessarily concerned with the fact many people in the UK are struggling to pay their bills.

"One solution, though I admit it is radical, would be renationalisation. Energy is a fundamental need in life and so important that it is not possible for a free-market system to operate properly," Mr Vince states.

He went on to say this would require significant investment and long-term planning, which may not suit many companies as they are only concerned with the short term.

To finish his argument, Mr Vince concluded: "Energy is vital to every person in this country and we need radical action - bold action - to safeguard all of our futures."

Despite the current concerns surrounding energy costs, there are steps consumers can take to try to lower their bills, with the government's Green Deal Home Improvement Fund providing homeowners with financial support to install energy-efficient measures, such as solid wall insulation, in their homes.

Posted by Rachel Jenkins