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Energy switching numbers rise for the first quarter of 2016

Ofgem: “but many customers are yet to reap the rewards from switching away from standard tariffs”

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Energy regulator Ofgem has released its quarterly switching numbers, suggesting switching numbers have continued to grow across England Scotland and Wales.

January, February and March saw an increase of people switching their energy supplier compared to figures from 2015: 25% more people chose to change their energy tariff thanks to a number of cheap fixed plans from both large and small suppliers providing increased savings on offer.

Ofgem states concern for prepayment customers

Despite the positive overall switching figures, Ofgem has stated concern that prepayment customers are still not being offered deals that are as desirable as those for standard credit meters.

If you’re a prepayment customer, it is often free with the “big six” suppliers to change to a credit meter: as long as the specific requirements are met for your supplier (for instance a successful credit check and/or no debt on the account), you may be able to switch meter and find a better deal to save you money off your energy bills.

However, if you don’t meet a supplier’s criteria to change meter type then being stuck on a prepayment meter can often mean uncompetitive tariffs.

Rachel Fletcher, Ofgem senior partner, Consumers and Competition, said:

“Many PPM customers are vulnerable and it concerns us that they are losing out.

“The CMA’s proposed prepayment tariff and other measures we are taking would improve this situation, and we are considering whether further action is needed.”

Can the CMA remedies boost switching numbers further?

The remedies released by the Competition and Markets Authority’s energy market investigation in March were produced with the aim of getting more people engaged in switching to save on their energy and increasing competition in the market.

Not only is the CMA suggesting a default tariff for prepayment meters — other remedies have been put forward such as a lift on the current four tariff per supplier cap.

Offering this wider variety of plans has been suggested in order to provide more choice for consumers’ specific energy requirements.

Following feedback on the proposed remedies, June will mark the end of the entire CMA investigation with a view to implementing changes and increasing switching numbers further in the future.

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