Press release:

Energy price cap would be the death knell for competition

Commenting on reports that the Prime Minister will announce a price cap on energy bills for customers on Standard Variable Tariffs (SVTs) in the Conservative manifesto, Richard Neudegg, Head of Regulation at uSwitch.com, says: “Quite rightly, politicians want to ensure that consumers get a better deal on energy.  But a price cap on standard variable tariffs (SVT) would do more harm than good. Boosting competition, strengthening social policies like the Warm Home Discount scheme and helping disengaged customers access the best deals is the most effective way to deliver a fairer energy market for all.

“Price caps may sound like a magic bullet, but heavy-handed price intervention could have the unintended effect of leaving consumers worse off. Instead of lowering bills, previous market interventions in the energy sector have led to lower switching rates and higher prices – a finding backed by the CMA in its energy market investigation.

“A price cap would be the death knell for competition. It would remove any incentive for energy companies to drive down prices and fight to keep their customers, entrenching the position of the incumbent big six. It would create a false sense of security for consumers on poor value SVTs, reducing the chance of them seeking a cheaper deal.

“The evidence is clear that boosting markets and competition – not heavy-handed regulation – is the best way to keep prices low and help consumers get a good deal. The CMA conducted a thorough and expensive investigation into the energy market and offered a ready-to-go programme to address consumers paying too much on SVTs. The remedies should be fully implemented and given time to succeed.  This, combined with measures to protect the most vulnerable energy consumers, such as extending the Warm Home Discount, would deliver a fairer energy market for all UK households.”

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About us

uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, home phone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, current accounts and insurance.

uSwitch customers have the option to create an account which will prompt them when their current broadband, credit card, energy, insurance and mobile deals are coming to an end. For energy customers, the account can also automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2016, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £320m on their energy bills alone.

Broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and to identify the best broadband provider for their postcode.

The uSwitch mobile app allows customers to compare energy and broadband deals. Energy customers can compare deals in seconds by scanning the QR code on their energy bill. The app won 'Most Innovative Use of Mobile' and the 'Chairman's Award' at The DRUM Marketing on Mobile Awards 2017. Consumers voted it Most Popular Website (Comparison category) in the Website of the Year Awards 2016.

uSwitch was the first comparison site to achieve the Plain English Campaign’s Internet Crystal Mark, recognising that it has clear language, is accessible and easy to use.

uSwitch has a UK contact centre which is manned by energy and broadband experts. The ‘Send Us Your Bill’ service allows customers to post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH in order to receive a free call back to be guided through the comparison process. Alternatively, consumers can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details. uSwitch’s address is The Cooperage, 5 Copper Row, London, SE1 2LH.

uSwitch is owned by ZPG Plc (LSE:ZPG), owner of some of the UK’s most trusted home-related digital platforms including Hometrack, Money.co.uk, PrimeLocation, Property Software Group and Zoopla.