Bottom Line: Comparison site knows something we don’t

 
Elizabeth Fournier

THE number of people switching energy provider – gas or electricity – fell to just two per cent in the second quarter of this year, from three per cent in 2012, the lowest since records began in 2003, with consumers apparently refusing to exercise their sovereignty despite rocketing prices – or so official figures from the department of energy and climate change (DECC) would suggest.

But Moneysupermarket’s results yesterday paint a very different picture. The price comparison website said its revenues in the first weeks of October had shot up by 25 per cent compared to a year ago as customers raced to switch.

Since Labour leader Ed Miliband pledged at the end of September that he would freeze energy prices until 2017 if elected, the UK’s big six energy providers have been at the centre of a row over rising bills, with politicians from all sides attacking the price hikes and calling for reform. The message seems to be sinking in, and consumers are voting with their feet.

It’s great news for companies like Moneysupermarket.com, whose shares shot up by more than 15 per cent yesterday, but also for the likes of First Utility – the firm Miliband switched to last year after receiving a particularly unwelcome bill.

Until DECC releases its next round of statistics at the end of December, we’re unlikely to know whether the rush to change providers was a momentary blip or the start of a real change in what consumers are now demanding from energy firms. In the meantime though, an unexpected source has given the big six plenty to think about.