The papers: Energy prices and statins row

  • 11 June 2014
Energy bill and coins

The energy regulator's warning that suppliers are failing pass on falls in wholesale prices to households grabs the attention of just about all the papers.

The Times says Ofgem fired "an extraordinary broadside" at the "Big Six" power companies after warning them that their failure to cut household bills is proof that the market is uncompetitive.

Ofgem's intervention prompted a fierce rebuttal from British Gas, the Times adds, which refused to divulge how it bought energy on the wholesale markets, based on commercial confidentiality.

The Guardian says the letter from Ofgem to the energy companies is expected to add credence to the view that Britain's energy firms are quick to put prices up when wholesale bills rise, but slow to cut them when they drop.

Ofgem's demand that the largest power companies explain to customers why a decline in wholesale prices has not led to lower fuel bills is a move that threatens to reignite the political row over energy costs, says the Financial Times.

"Watchdog rages at energy firms - Big Six savaged for not passing on fall in costs," is the headline in the Daily Mail.

The paper says energy suppliers were accused of "naked greed" and told they must explain why falling gas and electricity prices are not being passed on to consumers.

In what the Mail says is a public rebuke to the companies, they were told they needed to win back the trust of the public.

Ofgem's interventions triggered fresh allegations that power firms are profiteering by taking time to cut bills when costs go down, the Mail adds.

In a comment piece in the Daily Express, Mark Todd, the director of an energy helpline website, says one of the problems is that competition in the market is weak - the big suppliers have millions of customers who are loyal, who don't leave even when they raise prices.

In the paper's opinion, Labour has not helped matters with its pledge of an energy price freeze.

"This could have encouraged suppliers to buy in large amounts of gas and electricity as a buffer against future wholesale price rises," it says.

The Sun calls it a "gas outrage".

It says: "We didn't think trust in the energy giants could sink further. Yesterday it did. Even slumbering Ofgem is shocked."

"Still taking us for fuels," says the Daily Mirror. It says it is about time the heat was turned up on the energy companies.

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Medics clash

Many of the papers report that a group of doctors have criticised plans to extend the use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to millions more people, particularly the over 50s.

They say that evidence used to dismiss concerns about side-effects is flawed.

The Times says this drew a "furious response" from a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Oxford University, who accused the doctors of "irresponsible misinformation".

The Daily Telegraph leads with the story, reporting that the doctors say the proposals could have "worrying" consequences.

The story is also on the front page of the Daily Express, which declares that medics are "at war".

In an editorial, the paper says confusion over statins is a concern for all patients.

"It's a worry and the medical profession needs to get its act together," it says.

"Doctors warn guidance on statins could do more harm than good," is the headline in the Independent.

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Royal cup

There are plenty of pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge as she helps launch Britain's bid to challenge for sailing's America's Cup.

Duchess of Cambridge with America's Cup

The Times says Britannia has never ruled the waves in the competition, but the country's chances of finally winning the oldest trophy in sport were given a boost after 163 years of frustration.

The duchess was revealed as the figurehead of the 2017 attempt to win the cup.

"In this sport of billionaires, could Britain ever hope again to reach for the 'Auld Mug'," asks the Daily Telegraph. "It just could happen," it concludes.

The Daily Express said the duchess appeared in her element, chatting to sailors, support workers and financial backers of the bid.

And the Daily Mirror has a message for another royal, the Duke of Edinburgh, who was at a Buckingham Palace garden party on his birthday.

The paper says Prince Philip decreeing that people should not to mention his 93rd "was a command never likely to be obeyed".

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'Whitehall meddling'

The row over faith and extremism in schools rumbles on in the wake of the Trojan Horse investigations, and the government's desire to promote "British values".

In an editorial, the Daily Telegraph suggests we have never been especially good at defining what constitutes British values.

For more than two decades politicians have sought, with varying degrees of of success and enthusiasm, to articulate the the defining characteristics of the nation, it says.

The Times comments that "religious indoctrination cannot be permitted in the classroom".

"It would be wrong to impose more controls on schools... but what has been happening in Birmingham and Bradford cannot be permitted to continue," the Times believes.

Simon Jenkins writes in the Guardian that "Whitehall meddling is only ever bad news for schools".

"[Michael] Gove, as education secretary, is a master of paradox. He wills a world that is born in liberty yet he puts it forever in chains," he says.

The Independent claims that Mr Gove's advisers knew about the Trojan Horse allegations four years ago.

The paper says this puts the education secretary's "handling of the affair under fresh scrutiny".

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Making people click

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Daily Telegraph: Rik Mayall may have died after fit in wake of bike accident