'Big six' energy companies questioned about rising costs

The UK's six largest energy firms have been questioned by a committee of MPs over recent increases in electricity and gas prices.

The Energy and Climate Change Committee is exploring how the transparency of energy company profits can be improved.

While recent energy price increases have averaged 9.1 per cent, wholesale prices for gas and electricity have risen by just 1.7 per cent in the last year, according to the energy regulator Ofgem.

According to Ofgem's figures, the wholesale cost of supplying energy to a typical gas and electricity customer should have increased by £10 to £610 over the last year.

Speaking in front of the Committee, the chief executive of energy supplier E.On, Tony Cocker, told MPs there should be an inquiry into competition within the energy market.

Consumer group Which? has also called on Chancellor George Osborne to implement measures to increase competition in the energy market in his Autumn Statement being held on 4 December.

Responding to Which?, a government spokesperson said: "We welcome this contribution to the debate, and agree that stronger competition is the key to tackling energy bills. The government is working hard to help people with their rising energy bills by improving competition, making the nation's homes cheaper to heat and providing targeted help for the most vulnerable."

Prime Minister David Cameron has also voiced frustration about 'the big six.'

"I want to see the big 60; I want to see many more energy companies," he said.