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Pprice cap 'will wipe out energy giants' profits' U turn:The Tories are now set to adopt Labour's policy on capping power bills A senior executive at one of the Big Six energy groups told The Mail on Sunday: 'A 100 price cap would wipe out profits.
'Prices have gone up because wholesale energy costs and taxes have gone up. We don't want to put prices up. We know we'll get hammered by politicians. But economics beats politics and we're doing it because we have to.' The warning was echoed by investment bank Jefferies, which claimed a 100 cut would 'eradicate profits' at the energy giants. The Big Six firms are British Gas, SSE, Eon, Npower, EDF Energy and ScottishPower. The Prime Minister has repeatedly said the energy market is not working, noting that prices have charms for a pandora bracelet gone up by 158 per cent over the past 15 years. Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green has said the market regulator Ofgem will be allowed to impose a price ceiling on standard variable tariffs, which account for more than two thirds of customers. The policy should save households about 100 a year. The fine details of the energy cap are expected to be announced when the Tories unveil their General Election manifesto which could happen as early as tomorrow. It is not the first time in recent years that a party leader has wanted to intervene in the energy market. Labour's Ed Miliband stirred up controversy with his own plan to cap energy bills, which became a manifesto commitment for Labour in 2015. May's predecessor David Cameron described the proposal as evidence that Miliband wanted to live 'in a Marxist universe' and said it proved the Labour leader needed 'a basic lesson in economics'. But just two years later it is set to become official Tory party policy. The Coalition argued in 2015 that intervening in the market would damage competition and reduce investment. That view is still supported by the Liberal Democrats' former Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable, who has told The Mail on Sunday his personal view is that a price cap was a misguided move. The City has been crunching the numbers on the Tory plans and predicts British Gas owner Centrica, with 11million customers, and the other Stock Exchange listed Big Six energy firm, SSE, which has eight million customers, would lose hundreds of millions of pounds in profits if energy bills were slashed by Government edict. Labour's Ed Miliband's plan to cap energy bills has now been adopted by Theresa May Analysts at Jefferies said: 'With the average UK bill being about 1,100 and Centrica making a around 50 per customer post tax profit, the Government introducing a policy that would reduce bills by say 100, would eradicate profits in the industry.' Jefferies said its experts expect May to propose a cut in bills of less than 100, but warned that the plan could still result in 'unintended consequences'. The bank suggested the Government could pandora jewelry store instead introduce a 50 cut, but this would still be a huge hit to profits. 'We would expect up to a 300million reduction in earnings [before interest and tax]. and a reduction in profit per customer from 50 to 18,' said the bank. British Gas owner Centrica is set to make 1.4billion profits in its annual results. The consequences for SSE would be similar, said the bank, except SSE has an extremely high proportion of its customers on standard variable tariffs about 90 per cent which puts it at the top end of the Big Six. The bank looked at the likely outcome if the Government introduces a cap on standard variable tariffs similar to the one introduced earlier this year for customers on pre payment meters. British Gas owner Centrica is set to make 1.4billion profits in its annual results Jefferies said: 'We estimate that it would reduce SSE's earnings [before interest and tax] by 139 million.' SSE's earnings are likely to be 1.8billion when it unveils annual results next week. The bank expects that a plan to cap bills will result in firms taking swift action to raise fixed price tariffs while at the same time introducing cost efficiencies to try to restore profits. Perhaps unexpectedly, customers' worries over energy bills have remained constant over the past two years, with about 30 per cent of customers expressing concern, while four years ago the figure was 59 per cent, according to the Government's own survey. 'I don't think the Government has ever got over the way Miliband's pledge took the wind out of its sails,' said one leading energy executive. 'I think the Prime Minister wants to claim that kudos for herself.' Since Miliband's promise, the Big Six's domination of the market has fallen to about 85 per cent and there are now more than 40 suppliers to choose from. But that is clearly not enough of a difference for an interventionist Prime Minister. 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