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Richard Neudegg, Head of Regulation at Uswitch.com comments on Ofcom’s broadband pricing review

“This £84 average fall reduces the default energy price cap to £1,042 for those on standard tariffs - the lowest level it has been since it was introduced in January 2019. For those with prepayment meters, the average fall is £95. “Wholesale energy prices plunged earlier this year following COVID-19 lockdown measures, and this passes some of that reduction onto the energy bills of millions of households who are on Standard Variable Tariffs.

“There is a £232 difference between the new October level of the price cap and the cheapest fixed deal on the market now, so there is still a lot of money to be saved by moving off a default tariff. 

“With Ofgem already saying that the cap may need to rise in April if wholesale trends continue, locking in a 12-month fixed deal is looking like an even smarter choice for consumers. “Many people will be relieved to see their energy prices fall as temperatures start to drop, and this change will take some of the sting out of expensive winter bills. “However, savvier consumers will note that a change in October represents a seven month lag since the huge plunge in wholesale prices at the start of the lockdown - an unavoidable fallout of the price cap system. “This summer has seen energy deals at their cheapest since 2018 and millions are already benefiting from the lower wholesale prices. “This price cap cut is effectively money off what are the most expensive tariffs in the market. Customers can choose to stay on their energy deal and wait until October to see the cut, or they can reap the benefits of these low prices today by switching. “Ofgem has also recommended that this temporary price cap remains in place next year, as some of the work to update and reform the energy industry has stalled under lockdown. “So those on standard plans can expect to be on the ride of six-monthly ups and downs for a while longer. “The reduced price cap could also put more strain on providers with tighter margins, so we will be monitoring the market for signs of this.”
Uswitch explains: Information about the price cap and what it is What is the energy price cap?

“The energy regulator Ofgem sets a maximum amount that providers can charge to customers on default tariffs or prepayment meter tariffs. Approximately 11 million people on default tariffs - which include standard variable tariffs - are covered by the Default Tariff Price Cap, and four million customers are protected by the Prepayment Meter Price Cap.”
Why do we have a price cap?

“Customers on prepayment meters were finding it hard to access cheaper offers, and those who don’t shop around are getting stuck on their providers’ default tariff, which is often the most expensive. The cap is temporary while improvements are made to the market.”
Why is the price cap changing?  

“The price cap is reviewed twice a year at set times. Wholesale energy prices have fallen due to reduced demand from industry during the coronavirus crisis, and Ofgem is reflecting these changes in how it calculates the cap.”
What should consumers do next? 

“Uswitch data shows there is a £232 difference between the new price cap and the cheapest fixed deals on the market. The change in price cap means bills will be lower for people on SVTs, but many could make further savings by switching to fixed deals.”
Is the price cap good for consumers?

“Any drop in the price cap will undoubtedly be good for consumers who remain on SVTs. But consumers should remain vigilant - this is money off what are the most expensive tariffs already, when there are much better deals available that offer the ability to fix rates. Consumers are also subject to variable volatility in the cap levels, with Ofgem reviewing prices every six months. Uswitch would prefer that the government and Ofgem focus and deepen the formal support available to households that are the most in need.”


About Uswitch

Uswitch is the UK’s top comparison website for home services switching. Launched in September 2000, we help consumers save money on their gas, electricity, broadband, mobile, TV, and financial services products and get more of what matters to them. Last year we saved consumers over £373 million on their energy bills alone.

Uswitch is part of RVU, a new business that also owns Money.co.uk and Bankrate.

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