Energy supplier switching hits three-year high

 
Suzie Neuwirth
THE NUMBER of people switching energy supplier hit a three-year high last month, according to new data released yesterday.

The number of people switching suppliers in November rose above 614,000, almost double the 356,952 figure from November last year, said the research from Electralink, commissioned by industry body Energy UK.

125,000 of the people who switched last month changed to a company outside of the big six energy firms – which currently dominate 98 per cent of the market – benefitting smaller suppliers such as Ovo Energy, First Utility and Co-operative Energy.

The data also showed the amount of time it takes to switch supplier fell to a 14-month low of 17 days.

The cost of energy bills has been at the centre of a political debate for the past two-and-a-half months, since Labour leader Ed Miliband pledged a 20-month price freeze if elected.

Since then, all six of the big energy suppliers have unveiled price hikes far above inflation, blaming higher wholesale costs and green levies for raising customers’ bills. Last week, the government confirmed plans to shift some green levies into general taxation and extend the implementation of a flagship energy-efficiency scheme.

“The government cannot control the price of energy in the global market, but it can help bill payers by reducing the impact of social and environmental programmes on their bills,” it said in the Autumn Statement last Thursday.

All of the major suppliers have said they would pass savings down to consumers. Most of the big six have promised a £50-£53 reduction to planned price rises, which were set to add over £100 on to the average bill. E.On and EDF unveiled smaller price hikes as a result of the planned policy changes.

Customers will receive a £12 rebate on their bills for the next two years, while the Warm Home Discount will equate to a £135 rebate for more vulnerable households.