New figures from the Department for Energy and Climate Chance (DECC) show that the number of households switching energy provider in the first quarter of 2012 has plummeted to an all-time low.
The figures show a 25% decline in the number of people switching electricity providers in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the first quarter of 2011, while gas switches dropped by 33% over the same period.
In 2010, 16% of households switched gas and 17% switched electricity provider, but last year this fell to 15% for gas and 15% for electricity.
The news follows recent findings that the cost of energy has risen five times faster than household income since 2004/05.
Earlier in March, it was revealed that switching had never been lower, but these latest numbers suggest that the decline has yet to bottom out.
Estimates from uSwitch suggest that switching energy provider could save households up to £420 on their household bills, a significant amount with the average household bill now standing at £1,254 a year.
Common issues preventing people from switching include the belief that there will be an interruption to their supply and that energy prices are relatively similar between suppliers. For help with switching read ‘switching questions and answers’.
What we think
Tom Lyon, energy expert at uSwitch, says: “This tells us that the energy market is not just in poor health – it’s on the critical list. Switching numbers are dropping off a cliff with the number of people engaging at an all-time-low.
“This means that the pressure is on Ofgem to ensure that its Retail Market Review delivers. It’s not enough to just stop the rot – it has to turn these numbers around.
“What these figures also tell us is that consumers are losing out – this low-level of switching is hitting consumers’ pockets. With household energy bills at an eye-watering £1,254 a year,
people cannot afford to be paying hundreds of pounds more for their energy than they need to.
“Consumers have to have trust and confidence in the market so that they feel able to shop around for a better deal – this is now imperative.”
Unsure about switching, not sure how it works or whether it’s worth it? Read our guide to switching.