Business

Rise in energy customers switching deals

Gas hob

A rising number of energy customers have switched gas and electricity deals amid widespread calls to benefit from savings that are available.

Regulator Ofgem said there were 3.8 million switches in the first six months of the year.

This was the second six months in a row that the switching total broke three million, and was nearly one million higher than the first half of 2015.

The data follow a major report into competition in the energy market.

According to the Competition and Markets Authority's (CMA's) two-year investigation, two-thirds of UK households were paying "over the odds" for their energy compared with those who have switched to a different tariff.

Ofgem said that customers could save more than £300 by ditching expensive standard variable tariffs for the cheapest deal, often a fixed-term tariff.

The average standard variable tariff of the larger energy suppliers as of 28 July was £1,066. The cheapest tariff available on that date - a one year fixed tariff - was £758, a saving of £308.

"Great deals are there for the taking. There are very competitive offers and many more suppliers to choose from, and that's why more consumers are switching," said Rachel Fletcher, of Ofgem.

To encourage more switching, Ofgem is planning to trial "more effective prompts" on customers' bills to encourage them to compare different tariffs. However, Ofgem said it would not be capping standard variable energy tariffs.

The regulator's response to the CMA report, and the investigation itself, was criticised by some as not being bold enough.

Separately, the Energy Networks Association has launched a new service in England, Scotland and Wales allowing people to contact their network in the case of a power cut by calling 105 or visiting a dedicated website.

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