The Co-operative Group has blasted the UK’s major energy providers for failing to give consumers a straightforward deal on their gas and electricity bills.

The mutual launched its home energy business earlier this year. Nigel Mason, who heads up Co-operative Energy, has criticised the ‘big six’ energy companies – including the likes of British Gas and E.on – for confusing consumers with complex tariffs and billing arrangements.

“We thought the energy market wasn’t working efficiently for consumers, which is something [regulator] Ofgem has been delving into deeply,” Mason said.

“Our analysis is that the markets seem to be sewn up by the big six. Not much has changed in the way of attracting new entrants apart from the proliferation of products and tariffs, which have an opposite effect of confusing consumers.

“We need to galvanise people into taking more interest in switching. If the effect of our entry is improving the market, that's a good thing. We'd like to be part of the big seven some time in the future.”

The news comes after Tesco today stepped up its partnership with E.on by letting its shoppers pay their energy bills with Clubcard points.

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New Clubcard tie-up lets shoppers pay off energy bills (10 May 2011)