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Equalities and Rights Equalities and Rights

Support initiatives to make switching supplier easier and more reliable

Last updated: 09:46am 24 January 2019

We will maintain the competitive element of the retail energy market by supporting initiatives to make the switching process easier and more reliable, but the safeguard tariff cap will protect customers who do not switch against abusive price increases.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.60

Our verdict

According to one major consumer website, switching energy supplier could save most people £300 per year. The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) found in 2018 that 41% of survey respondents had switched supplier, changed tariff or searched for a better deal over the past year. But the survey also revealed “that consumers in vulnerable circumstances are likely to be paying more for their energy than is necessary”.

This policy is a promise to support initiatives to make the switching process easier and more reliable, which would hopefully enable more people in vulnerable circumstances to feel confident switching supplier.

Progress-wise, in February 2018, Ofgem (the government regulator for gas and electricity markets) published details of plans for a new Switching Programme that will:

“enable consumers to switch their energy supplier reliably and quickly, including by the end of the next working day if they choose…”

Consultation has taken place to confirm details of regulation and governance around the new switching process, and Ofgem says it aims to complete drafting the text relating to the changes by the end of March 2019. After that, further consultation will be required before actual implementation of the programme.

The new Switching Programme is a significant undertaking – and being led by a government body too. As the policy was a promise only to “support initiatives” (not to actually implement initiatives), we feel the government is doing at least as much as they have promised. So we’re marking this as ‘done’.

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