Wednesday 22 January 2020 10:30 am

Record number of customers switch energy supplier in 2019

A record number of consumers switched household energy supplier in 2019, with almost 6.4m switches over the course of the year.

As the UK market caters to roughly 30m households, that means one in every five customers changed supplier in the last 12 months.

On average, there were 530,000 switches a month, with April seeing a peak of 670,000, according to industry body Energy UK’s figures.

The total figure is more than twice that in 2014, when the number of switches was 3.1m, and represents a nine per cent increase of 2018.

Audrey Gallacher, Energy UK’s interim chief executive, said: “With switching at a record high – with on average 12 switches every minute in 2019 – it’s evident that competition continues to flourish in the retail market and customers are benefiting from new innovative products and services.

“There are around 60 energy suppliers and the rapid market changes in recent years have now led to a point where we no longer have a Big Six.”

The figures underline just how much challenger brands such as Octopus, Bulb and Ovo have loosed the Big Six’s grip on the domestic market in the last few years.

In December, for example, 167,000 customers switched from market leading firms to smaller brands, who now collectively hold about 30 per cent of UK market share.

Business minister Kwasi Kwarteng commented on the figures, urging people to switch supplier:

“Today’s figures show the benefits of switching, with customers potentially saving around £290 per year on their bills.

“Households can also cut their bills by cutting their emissions – this Big Energy Savings Week I’d urge people to contact the Simple Energy Advice Service to see what they can do.”

Last week Ovo completed its purchase of SSE’s household business, meaning it acquired roughly 3.5m extra customers and became the UK’s second biggest supplier with nearly 5m homes.

Similarly, Octopus announced on Monday that it would takeover French utility Engie’s 70,000 customers after the firm decided to leave the UK market.

In recent months Ofgem has proposed tighter regulations for entrants to the market, after 2019 saw record numbers of suppliers fail.