Advice Centre

Record Low For Consumers Switching Energy Supplier

The government and OFGEM should urgently investigate why record low numbers of consumers are switching energy suppliers.

Switching is at the lowest level since records began…

New figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) show the number of consumers changing electricity and gas suppliers fell by 17% and 14% respectively in the year to June 2013. This means switching is at its lowest level since the DECC began monitoring transfers in 2003.

Figures released by the government show that switching suppliers can save consumers on average £154 a year but a time when energy prices are skyrocketing, fewer consumers than ever before are actually changing supplier to reap these savings.

The questions are now being asked why the energy market is deterring consumers from shopping around and switching accordingly.

One of the major deterrents for business gas customers wanting to shop around for cheaper deals was the complexity of the UK’s energy pricing system, which made it difficult to compare like-for-like prices. Clearly the market is not functioning as it should. In a truly competitive energy market, consumers would embrace the opportunity to find the cheapest deals. In fact they are doing the opposite.

OFGEM need to revise its plans to introduce an APR-style pricing system under which all suppliers would have to quote an average tariff for the purposes of comparison. The APR-style system is not enough. Consumers need to be able to look at their bills and instantly see how much they are paying for a unit of energy and be able to use this figure to compare the tariffs of other suppliers.

Energy Advice Line also support calls for the industry to make business gas switching a quicker process, rather than the 6-week affair that it currently is. We believe suppliers could easily join the telecoms and banking sectors in getting the switching lead-time down to days, not weeks.

Consumers must not just sit back, they need to engage with the market…

Too many consumers see changing suppliers as a complex rigmarole and therefore they put energy in the ‘too-hard’ basket. The truth is that they cannot afford to do that, especially at a time when business gas prices are set to carry on rising.

Energy Advice Line makes the task of shopping around easier by using a reputable and independent price comparison and switching service.

Use a reputable price comparison service with a large panel of suppliers…

The Energy Advice Line’s price comparison and switching service is free and completely impartial. Consumers can obtain energy quotes with a few simple details, based on a diverse panel of energy suppliers including the major players and smaller independent utility companies.

Source: DECC’s Quarterly Q2: Domestic Energy Switching Statistics

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