"As the independent gas and electricity watchdog, our mission is simple: to get the best deal we can for energy consumers."
So says energywatch [sic]. And over the last 24 hours they have been sounding off mightily over the hike in British Gas prices. Indeed, Campaign Director Adam Scorer has just laid into Centrica for daring to increase prices while still in profit:
"Prices are going up because £992 million profit in six months isn't enough. British Gas customers, still reeling from 35 per cent price hikes, might have expected Centrica to be losing money. They will be staggered at the rude health of Centrica's half year profits. Customers will be outraged to learn that while they ponder how to make ends meet Centrica’s shareholders are enjoying an increase in their dividends."
Well, that's fair enough you say. Independent consumer watchdogs are quite entitled to put their case, even if it is little more than a left-wing anti-market rant.
Except that energywatch is not independent. It is a tax-funded quango which costs us £15m pa (2006-07 Report and Accounts). Its rants are entirely dependent on us taxpayers for their funding.
It gets better. In 2006-07, Campaign Director Adam Scorer got paid no less than £75,000 (including pension accrual). His boss Allan Assher got paid c £125,000 (including pension). Of our money.
Do you want to pay for this nonsense?
No, of course not.
That's another £15m pa saved.
(Let's hope George Osborne is keeping a note of all these cost cutting ideas).