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UKHospitality calls for investigation into energy bill 'profiteering'

The government is facing calls to investigate claims that some energy suppliers are charging inflated prices for gas and electricity to hospitality customers.

Trade body UKHospitality said a probe needed to determine that energy firms were not "deliberately profiteering" from the current crisis.

It said the difference between the price energy companies were paying for power on the wholesale market and how much they were charging their customers had "soared" over the last six months, despite government intervention.

Ministers launched the Energy Bill Relief Scheme last month to help businesses cope with rising energy costs.

Last week the price for electricity was set at 53p per kWh. However, the Times reported that hospitality businesses had received quotes of up to 80p per kWh for fixed electricity contracts.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said there was "no rational explanation" to justify the increase and called for an investigation to start before Christmas.

She has written to business secretary Grant Shapps to recommend Ofgem and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) look at the issue.

Nicholls added: "The government's support package for business is absolutely vital but there are real fears that this substantial package of support is being undermined by energy suppliers quoting far above the wholesale price, with no transparency as to why.

"Many businesses are still not being offered fixed rates at all despite the certainty provided to suppliers by the government.

"I believe it is in the interests of business, the taxpayer and the government itself to be completely assured that its support package is being delivered in the fair way it intended and not used for commercial gain at a time of national difficulty."

A spokesperson for the department for business, energy and industrial strategy said: "We are aware a small minority of businesses have reported that some energy suppliers have set prices that undermine the benefits of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme.

"We are working with the regulator Ofgem to ensure licence conditions have not been breached and to ensure businesses are able to see the full effects of support offered by the scheme."

The Caterer previously heard some energy providers were refusing to even issue quotes for hospitality businesses due to venues being seen as too high risk.

Nicholls added: "There need to be complete clarity and certainty that energy suppliers are not deliberately profiteering from the current crisis and the size of the government's intervention."


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