Author Archives: Tom Purvis

Tom Purvis is a Liberal Democrat member that lives in London. He has worked with small and large businesses since graduating from Durham University and now works as an economist representing independent professionals and the self-employed.

Improving consumer knowledge in the energy industry

As a liberal, I am not in the business of banning many things. I subscribe to the idea that knowledge is power, and that by providing consumers with more information, positive outcomes can be achieved. For a market to be competitive, consumers must have information, and we know that competitive markets improve outcomes across the board.

In the food industry this has already happened. If you look on a packet of crisps, it will show you how many calories there are, how much salt as well as a whole host of other nutritional information. According to this report, the US is going to start labelling GMO foods with a smiley face. 

Because of this, consumers are able to make choices and we are seeing a downward trend in calorie consumption. However, we don’t do this in a lot of other markets, including the energy industry.

With the energy industry, it is difficult for consumers to get information about the product that they are buying. Consumers are using comparison sites, which help to an extent, but unless each utility company is researched, it is tricky.

This is where policy makers can come in, and it could act as a nudge mechanism for consumers.

YouGov surveyed 2,000 UK consumers and found that consumers would pay on average up to 10 per cent more for a sustainable product. The same report, which can be found here, found that 40 per cent of consumers already consider the sustainability of the product when they buy.

This is where we can reform the energy industry. Not with price caps like Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have put forward, which would only serve to reduce the supply from smaller energy providers. 

Instead, we could compel energy providers to produce some sort of guidance for the consumer regarding the sustainability of the product. Which countries are the main producers of the energy? Is it sustainable? What method of extraction was used to get the energy? That type of thing. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 7 Comments

Better for Business, Better for Britain

According to this ONS report, net investment in the UK is much weaker in comparison to other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations. When we look at non-government expenditure on net investment, the UK is ranked as the lowest of any OECD nation.

Obviously, this is bad news. We keep hearing about the productivity puzzle and how we can solve it. If we can solve this issue of low investment, we can make some progress in achieving the productivity growth that the OBR forecast at the Spring Statement 2018.

Solving the productivity crisis will lead to higher wages and a growing economy. Both of these will help answer other questions such as how can we get more people onto the housing ladder?

Posted in News and Op-eds | 70 Comments
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