Campaign to speed up energy switching launched: Will it mean a better deal for consumers?
Each year consumers are faced with the prospect of energy bills hikes, with many forced to trim their spending in other areas to meet the rising cost of gas and electricity.
And while many consumers may have contemplated making the move to another supplier, the fact that the ‘Big Six’ suppliers often introduce price increases in quick succession, can often mean that consumers struggle to stay one step ahead of the game.
This coupled with the fact that switching inertia is common for many products from current accounts to energy tariffs, can prevent consumers from getting the best deal on their energy bills.
Even those consumers that do choose to make the leap to a new supplier can face an average 4-6 week wait before the transfer is complete.
In fact, complexity and speed were cited as the two mains reasons why consumers were put off steering away from their current supplier.
In an attempt to simplify the switching process, and help consumers get the most competitive tariff for their needs, energy firm First Utility has launched a 'Fix the Switch' campaign.
The campaign aims to slash the time it takes consumers to move to a new energy supplier, with the firm arguing that consumers could save a staggering £1.5bn on an annual basis if just a third made the switch.
The campaign has already received the support of energy Watchdog Ofgem, and Andrew Wright, Ofgem chief, hopes that energy firms will take the regulator’s lead.
“We are determined to speed up the switching process and we are working closely with suppliers to ensure that it happens,” he said. “Improvements have already been made to cut the time it takes to switch supplier to three weeks but ultimately the roll out of smart meters to homes and businesses will pave the way for a quicker switching process to be developed.”
Campaign comes as energy profits rise and fixed rate deals come to an end
The 'Fix the Switch' campaign seems to have come at an apt time, as reports surfaced that ‘Big Six’ supplier British Gas is set to increase energy prices by 10% this autumn, a reported increase that British Gas hasn’t commented on.
If realised this increase would add £120 average annual dual fuel energy tariff, increasing it to £1,350.
This comes despite the fact that figures from a recent Ofgem report showed that energy supplier profits are up by 86%.
To make the situation even worse for consumers, several fixed rate tariffs, which lock in energy prices for a fixed period, are set to come to an end. This includes EDF Energy’s Blue+ Price Promise, September 2013, two EDF fixed rate deals, one from First Utility and three tariffs from Scottish Power.
Commenting on the plight facing energy customers in the UK, Mark Todd, director of energyhelpline, said:
“Many householders have seen no increase in income, so every year their energy bills become even more unaffordable.
"In addition, industry sources have leaked information to the energyhelpline team that the cheapest fixed rate tariff in the market is about to be pulled in the next seven days. The tariff M&S Energy Fix & Save is almost full up. If you want a cheap fixed deal this is the cheapest around and once it is pulled the average home will need to pay almost £50 more a year to fix.”
"With this news of looming price rises and the cheapest fixed rate tariffs being pulled, we have one piece of advice to UK households …get switching. It's the only way to avoid price rises and unnecessarily high energy bills."
New energy switching guidance issued for tenants
Ofgem has revealed that it has published new guidance on energy switching for the UK’s nine million tenants, after the regulator’s research revealed that just under a quarter (23%) of those living in rented accommodation had never switched energy supplier.
The guidance emphasises that if tenants are responsible for paying energy bills, that they have the right to choose the energy supplier that it best for their needs.
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