Election 2015

Election 2015: Lib Dems in energy and rail pledges

Rail tickets Image copyright PA
Image caption Critics say that rail fares have risen by 20% over the past five years

People will be able to switch energy suppliers within 24 hours under new plans set out by the Liberal Democrats.

The party wants to "give power back" to consumers by making it much quicker for households to change supplier, saying it could save people up to £200 a year.

It also wants to encourage collective switching and to guarantee smart meters for those on prepayment plans.

As part of a five-point consumer rights plan, it is also pledging to end above-inflation rail fare increases.

Labour has said it will cap energy bills for 20 months from this summer until 2017 so they cannot rise. The Conservatives, meanwhile, have said they will ensure regulated rail fares rise by no more than inflation until 2020.

The Liberal Democrats say their plans will shift the balance of power back in favour of consumers and commuters to ease the cost of living and save families hundreds of pounds a year.

"Competition, choice and a fair deal for consumers is the backbone of a stronger economy, yet the balance of power still remains in the favour of big business," leader Nick Clegg said.

"We want to give power back to consumers and commuters, making sure people are not ripped off by sky high energy bills and excessively high rail fares. Our five-point plan will deliver more choice, less hassle and more money back in people's pockets."

The Lib Dems have effectively been in charge of the coalition government's energy policy over the last five years, a period in which critics say prices have risen sharply. But the party insists it has helped boost competition and provide more safeguards for customers.

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