20 September 2011

Thinking Paper: Chris Huhne - nudge politics at its finest?

By Ron Ford Golightly

Abstract

Ahead of Chris Huhne’s electrifyingly dull speech, the IIPBA looks at some words that he uttered recently about energy prices.

Chris Huhne - nudge politics at its finest?

On Saturday Chris Huhne said that people just needed to “shop around a bit” to save on extortionate utility bills.

This annoyed the IIPBA me for several reasons:
  1. Within the same interview he said that the big six providers need to be regulated more closely by Ofgem on pricing. He alluded to the idea that there is some kind of racket on gas supply. Really? See point 2.
  2. All six providers have said that they will raise gas prices by 15% this winter. Keep an eye out for the headline “record profits recorded by gas providers 2011/12”
  3. Shopping around is largely irrelevant when all of the big providers are raising their prices. In addition to this, many people will already be locked into contracts.
Concluding remarks

I once read a book called nudge which puts forward the idea that through the correct choice of wording, positioning, marketing etc you can get people to make better decisions regarding personal finance, health etc. Then I read that this government loved the idea of nudge politics so much that they decided to set up a nudge unit within the Cabinet Office. We suggest that Chris Huhne read the book again and a just a little slower this time. Moron.

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