Our utility firms provide us all with the unglamorous but necessary products which we need to live in the modern world; essential things like energy (electricity and gas) and water, as well as almost-essentials like bank accounts and telephones too. Some of these firms, like the ones which provide our food, clothes and TV, produce products which we like, and rate highly (with the recent – and hopefully temporary – exception of the beef industry). But others – like energy, water, banks and broadband – make us feel ripped off and we consistently give them rock-bottom scores on everything from value for money to quality of service and overall customer satisfaction.
This isn’t good enough. We all need these products every day so, when they let us down with high prices or poor service, everybody suffers. It imposes a deadweight cost which holds back our economy, slowing growth and making Britain less dynamic. And the human cost falls most heavily on vulnerable and less well-off families too.