Author Archives: Ann Robinson

About Ann Robinson

Ann is passionate about empowering consumers and making sure that they are equipped to get the best out of a competitive energy market. She sees her role as a continuation of the work she did when she was Chair of Energywatch and is particularly interested and vocal on social issues such as fuel poverty.

There’s more to do to get a better deal for energy consumers, says Ann Robinson

radiator-thermostat-heating-energy-230x230

One year ago, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd wrote to the Big Six to demand why hard-pressed consumers weren’t seeing bigger reductions in their gas and electricity bills.

Fresh to her role in charge of the Department for Energy and Climate Change, she challenged suppliers to explain why they had failed to pass on significant wholesale price reductions to customers sooner. Her message was clear: the energy industry needed to do more to regain consumers’ trust and cut prices.

So, what’s happened since?

In terms of bills, not enough. Wholesale gas and electricity prices have fallen by a third and a quarter, respectively, in the past year. Yet the 70 per cent of customers on so-called standard variable tariffs have experienced a reduction of just 2.7 per cent, or a mere £30, over the same time period.

On the other hand, competition between suppliers on fixed rate tariffs continues to be fierce. Deals have plummeted a staggering 11 per cent in the last year, with suppliers large and small battling to take the top spot in the best buy tables.

So the challenge is – how do we get more people engaging with the market to put far greater pressure on suppliers to lower prices and improve customer service?

The Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) energy market investigation, due to end later this month, should be a game changer. The CMA is right to conclude that better competition is the best way to transform the broken energy market. Its final reforms will be a major step in the right direction, but consumers may not see an immediate benefit.

That’s why regulators, the Government and industry must work together to implement the CMA’s final proposals quickly. It’s encouraging to see some changes already starting to happen. For example, Ofgem is allowing suppliers to develop innovative new tariffs, as well as working up proposals to redesign energy bills to make them easier to understand.

But a more competitive market won’t help everyone, especially the most vulnerable. Around 4.7m households in the country are spending ten per cent or more of their annual income on energy – with over 350,000 of those in London. That’s why uSwitch is calling on the Government to extend the Warm Home Discount, a £140 electricity rebate for those eligible, to all energy suppliers – as well as increase the pot of money available to help more of those in need.

The success of the CMA’s final proposals must be properly evaluated as they are implemented. Switching rates are a strong indicator of competition and ambitious targets should be set to monitor those changing suppliers, tariffs and comparing deals. Increasing switching rates between suppliers to just 25% a year by 2020 would transform competition in the market, driving down prices and improving customer service.

The past year may have seen little impact for energy consumers but, with the CMA’s final report just around the corner, the next 12 months are set to see some of the biggest changes in the industry in over a decade. What’s vital is that these reforms lead to millions more consumers taking control of their energy use and spend.

— ends —

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.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m 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.

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 Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

uSwitch comments on Government plans for seven day switching

family-tech-broadband-laptop-230x230

Responding to news that the Government is considering plans to make seven day switching a reality across more markets, Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “We warmly welcome today’s plan from the Government to make switching suppliers even easier. Faster switching will encourage more consumers to engage with the market and boost competition – resulting in lower bills, better service and more choice.

“The current process of spending up to twelve weeks trying to change mortgage provider is far too long. We’re already seeing some encouraging innovations from providers, such as the one day in-branch mortgage approval service from HSBC and Lloyds Bank considering a new mortgage video interview service – but more needs to be done to speed up switching times.

“To make a real impact on switching levels in the telecoms sector, consumers looking to move any service – whether it’s broadband, mobile, TV or landline – should only have to deal with their new provider in order to switch, as is the case with current accounts.

“What’s clear is that consumers shouldn’t have to jump through endless hoops to get a better deal. Making it easier for people to choose the right deal is a key factor in building consumer confidence. Customers could save over £1,100 by switching energy, car insurance, home insurance, broadband, mobile phone, credit card and current account.“

— ends —

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.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m 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.

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 Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

uSwitch comments on latest Energy UK switching figures 

house-housing-terrace-city

Commenting on today’s announcement from Energy UK that electricity switching rates have surpassed 400,000 for the third consecutive month, Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “It’s really encouraging that record numbers of consumers are taking control of their energy bills, but more needs to be done to help households engage with the market. The Competition and Markets Authority and Ofgem must quickly implement the proposed final remedies from the CMA’s energy investigation to boost competition, improve customer service and reduce bills.

“It takes just a few minutes to find the best energy tariffs. People switching with uSwitch.com save an average of £394 a year, proving that shopping around really does pay off.”

— ends —

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.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m 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.

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 Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

Vulnerable customers face restricted access to cheapest energy deals

fuel-poverty-thermostat-heating-energy-elderly-230x230
  • Just two of the ten best energy deals are from suppliers participating in the Government’s Warm Home Discount scheme – down from six a year ago[1]
  • Discount offers vulnerable customers £140 off their electricity bills
  • But under current Government rules, suppliers with fewer than 250,000 customers don’t have to take part in the scheme[2]
  • uSwitch.com calls for Warm Home Discount to be extended to all energy suppliers to improve choice and provide more targeted support to those in need. 

Vulnerable consumers are facing increasingly limited choice when looking to switch to the market’s best deals, according to a new analysis from uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service[1].

Just two of the ten cheapest energy tariffs are currently from suppliers offering the Warm Home Discount, down from six out of ten a year ago. The discount entitles qualifying customers to a rebate of £140 from their annual electricity bill.

The decrease in the number of the best buy deals offering the Warm Home Discount is due to an increase in the number of new suppliers entering the market with competitive tariffs over the last 12 months. Under current Government rules, energy providers with fewer than 250,000 customers aren’t required to offer the Warm Home Discount, and to date none have voluntarily joined the scheme[2].

To increase choice and help remove barriers to switching for millions of consumers who are often in the greatest need of lower bills, uSwitch.com is calling on the Government to extend the Warm Home Discount to cover all energy suppliers from 2017.

uSwitch.com is also calling for Winter Fuel Payments, with its annual budget of over £2 billion, to be integrated into the Warm Home Discount scheme to more effectively support the most vulnerable. Unlike the discount, Winter Fuel Payments aren’t means-tested and are issued to all elderly consumers, meaning they fail to help millions in fuel poverty under pensionable age. According to uSwitch.com, significantly increasing the pot of money available through an expanded Warm Home Discount scheme would help significantly more vulnerable people across society.

Top ten cheapest energy deals on 1st May 2016 and 1st May 2015

 1st May 2016 1st May 2015
Supplier Tariff WHD? Supplier Tariff WHD?
1 IRESA 12 month Fixed Direct Debit No 1 E.ON E.ON uSwitch Collective Apr 15 Yes
2 Avro Energy Simple and Power No 2 First Utility iSave Fixed May 2016 v3 Yes
3 Sainsbury’s Energy SE Fixed Price May 2017 Yes 3 GB Energy Premium Energy Saver No
4 GnERGY GnERGY Fixed June 2017 No 4 GnERGY GnERGY Fixed June 2016 v1 No
5 Places For People Together – September 2017 – fixed 32 No 5 Extra Energy Fresh Fixed Price Sept 2016 v1 No
6 Flow Energy Connect 6 No 6 Flow Energy Connect No
7 GB Energy Fixed 12 Ruby No 7 ScottishPower Online Fixed Price Energy May 2016 Yes
8 Octopus Energy Octopus Variable No 8 Co-operative Energy Fair & Square May 2016 Yes
9 Extra Energy Fresh Fixed Price Oct 2017 v1 Yes 9 npower Price Fix July 2016 Yes
10 So Energy So Dragonfly No 10 OVO Energy Better Energy (all Online) Yes
2/10 suppliers offered Warm Home Discount 6/10 suppliers offered Warm Home Discount

Source: uSwitch.com. Top ten deals based on Ofgem average energy use profile for dual fuel tariffs paying by Direct Debit. Extra Energy joined the scheme on 1st April 2016.

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “Energy prices are felt most acutely by people with the least to spend, including the elderly, disabled people and low income families. They have the most to gain by switching energy supplier, yet many will feel forced to remain with larger providers to avoid losing their £140 Warm Home Discount. It is simply not fair that vulnerable customers face barriers to switching to the market’s best deals.

“The Warm Home Discount scheme has provided important financial support to around two million people since it was first set up, but more can be done to build on its success. The Government should set out a timetable for extending the Warm Home Discount to cover all energy suppliers, increase funding for the scheme, and make better use of data to provide more targeted support.”

— ends —

Notes to editors

1. See table in body of release

2. Ofgem rules state that smaller suppliers with fewer than 250,000 customers do not have to take part in the Warm Home Discount Scheme but they have the option to join. (Paragraph 1.1, Warm Home Discount: Guidance for Licensed Electricity Suppliers and Licensed Gas Suppliers [Version 4], Ofgem, 30 March 2015 https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/sites/default/files/docs/2015/03/whd_supplier_guidance_sy5_0.pdf). To date no suppliers with fewer than 250,000 customers have voluntarily decided to join the Warm Home Discount scheme.

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.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m 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.

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 Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

uSwitch comments on latest Ofgem switching figures

energy-electricity1-230x230

Commenting on today’s announcement from Ofgem that energy switching rates are continuing to rise, Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “It’s encouraging to see that energy switching is front of mind for more people – this is a step in the right direction but more needs to be done. The CMA and Ofgem need to implement the remedies identified in the CMA’s energy market investigation as soon as possible in order to help more people engage with this market.

“It takes just a few minutes to compare the best energy deals and people switching with uSwitch have saved an average of £394, proving that shopping around really does pay off.”

Find out how you could save over £1,000 a year with uSwitch here.

— ends —

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.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m 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.

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 Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

uSwitch comments on Centrica trading update

gas-cooker-kitchen-energy

Centrica has today published an update on its business performance, saying it remains on track to achieve targets set out in its preliminary results on 18 February 2016. Commenting on the news, Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “Today’s upbeat trading update suggests that Centrica is benefitting from the long run of low wholesale energy prices. British Gas has made more price reductions since the start of 2015 than any of the big six, but it should go further.

“With wholesale energy prices at their lowest in a decade, British Gas must again lead by example and make further reductions to both gas and electricity tariffs, otherwise its customers may feel short-changed.”

— ends —

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.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m 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.

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 Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

uSwitch comments on lowest wholesale energy prices in a decade

stock-exchange-money-finance-economy-230x230

Wholesale UK gas and electricity prices have averaged ten-year lows during Q1 of 2016, according to energy market pricing analysts ICIS. Commenting on the figures, Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “Today’s figures prove, yet again, that consumers have been short-changed by token gesture price cuts. Whilst any reduction is welcome, the fact remains that the average big six dual fuel bill has fallen a mere 5.7% since the start of last year. Given record low wholesale costs, suppliers must do the right thing and reduce standard tariffs by a further ten per cent.”

— ends —

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.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m 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.

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 Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

6 in 10 consumers still don’t understand energy bills, despite rules to make them clearer

tech-computer-woman-broadband
  • Six in ten (60%) consumers admit they don’t understand their energy bill[1]
  • Energy suppliers are voted the worst offenders for providing confusing bills[1]
  • Despite Ofgem reforms designed to make energy bills easier to understand, almost half (48%) of consumers haven’t noticed any difference[2]
  • Under the reforms, suppliers must provide information about the cheapest tariff available, yet over half (51%) of consumers can’t recall seeing this on their bill[2]
  • uSwitch.com is urging Ofgem and suppliers to push forward with new plans to simplify overcomplicated energy bills. 

A staggering six in ten consumers (60%) admit they don’t understand their energy bill, according to a new survey by uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service[1].

Customers vote energy suppliers the worst offenders for sending confusing bills, coming behind those including water companies, mortgage lenders, councils, phone companies and credit card lenders[1].

Today’s findings come two years after Ofgem introduced a range of reforms designed to make bills clearer and easier to understand, including a requirement to provide details of the supplier’s cheapest tariff. However, many consumers are still yet to notice the changes, with almost half (48%) saying they’ve seen no difference to bills and over half (51%) unable to recall information about cheaper deals. Of those who are aware that the cheapest tariff is displayed on bills, fewer than half (47%) switched – suggesting more can be done to prompt consumers away from expensive energy plans[2].

High levels of misunderstanding also mean that customers are at risk of missing important information relating to how much they pay – including whether the bill is based on an estimated meter reading, if the account is in credit or whether a cheaper tariff is available. Some of the biggest bill shocks can occur when customers receive a bill based on a meter reading, following a series of estimated bills, only to discover they have built up a significant debt.

In addition, over a quarter of customers (27%) admit they don’t bother to check any details on their energy bill beyond the amount they have to pay – making it even harder for them to take control of their energy[3].

Young consumers have the lowest level of bill comprehension, with almost seven in ten (68%) of those aged 18-35 admitting they don’t fully understand their energy bill, compared to 62% of those aged 35-54 and just over half (53%) of those ages 55 and over[4]. 

With last month’s Competition and Markets Authority proposals including a call to provide consumers with much clearer information to help them engage with the market, today’s findings show that further bill reform can’t come a minute too soon. uSwitch.com is calling for Ofgem, together with energy suppliers, to push forward with plans to simplify overcomplicated energy bills[5]. SSE, for example, has published designs for a redesigned bill following a year-long research project with customers, design experts and consumer groups[6]. 

Technology is also playing a role in helping consumers understand their energy use and spend. uSwitch.com’s recently launched Energy Switching App for Android allows users to compare, switch and save on energy directly via smartphone or tablet, with the functionality to scan a bill using the in-built QR code reader. The new Android app follows the success of its iOS app, which has saved customers almost £700,000 since launching last May[7].

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “The confusion around bills is a problem that must be tackled if consumers are to get in control of their energy use and spend. If they can’t make sense of their bill, customers could be missing out on better deals or risk bill shock by accumulating significant debt.

“Given that Ofgem’s reforms – which were designed to give clearer information to customers – came in two years ago, it’s worrying that so many remain baffled and bewildered by their bills. We’re urging Ofgem and suppliers to press ahead with plans to make bills easier to understand, making it simpler for consumers to use less, waste less and pay less for energy.

“In the meantime, technology is already helping people get to grips with overcomplicated bills. QR codes, which now appear on every bill, allow services like uSwitch’s new app to automatically read all the information needed to switch to a cheaper tariff in just a few taps.”

— ends —

Notes to editors

Research was conducted online by Opinium between 15th and 19th February 2016, among 2,000 UK adults. 244 respondents said they are either not involved in paying for their household’s energy usage, or that their household doesn’t pay for energy (e.g. costs covered by a landlord). Therefore statistics relating to energy bills are based on a sample of 1,756 consumers who are responsible for paying the energy bill.

  1. When asked to describe their understanding of household bills, 40% of energy bill payers said ‘I fully understand the information on my bill and am confident in my knowledge’. This compares to 61% of bank/building society bill payers, 61% of credit/store card bill payers, 58% for home telephone bill payers, 58% of mobile phone bill payers, 55% of council tax bill payers, 54% for broadband bill payers, 52% of DTV bill payers, 53% of mortgage bill payers and 47% for water bill payers
  2. When asked ‘Since April 2014, would you say that your bills for each of the following have become easier or harder to understand?’, 48% of respondents said they have noticed ‘no difference’. When asked if they were aware of supplier requirements to provide details of their cheapest tariff, 19% said ‘I was aware of this but my supplier has not told me about a cheaper deal’, 17% said ‘I was unaware of this and my supplier has not told me about a cheaper deal’ and 15% said ‘I was unaware of this and don’t know if my supplier has told me about a cheaper deal’ – adding up to a total of 51% who do not recall being told about a cheaper deal. When asked ‘Have you used this information to shop around for a more competitive tariff?’, 24% of those who said they were aware of supplier requirements to provide details of their cheapest tariff said ‘Yes – and I have switched to a new provider’ and 23% said ‘Yes – and I have switched to a new tariff with the same provider’ – adding up to a total of 47% who have switched.
  3. When asked ‘Thinking about when you receive a bill from an energy provider, what do you tend to do with it?’, 27% of respondents said ‘I check how much I have to pay but little else’
  4. When asked to describe their understanding of their energy bill, 32% of bill payers aged 18-34 said ‘I fully understand the information on my bill and am confident in my knowledge’, compared with 38% of those aged 35-54 and 47% of those aged 55+
  5. https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/effective-billing-and-information
  6. http://sse.com/newsandviews/allarticles/2016/02/new-sse-bill-design-aims-to-end-energy-bill-confusion/
  7. uSwitch’s iOS app has saved consumers an average of £363.91. A video explaining how the app works can be viewed here.

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.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m 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.

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 Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

Meagre big six energy price cuts leave millions below energy breadline

radiator-thermostat-heating-energy
  • Tomorrow’s (29th March) price cut from SSE completes a round of reductions from the big six which will save average dual fuel standard plan customers just £30 a year[1]
  • Following the cuts, over 4.7 million households will still be left spending 10% or more of their annual income on energy – a reduction of just 300,000 homes[2]
  • A 10% cut to standard tariffs, more in line with record low wholesale energy prices, would lift an additional 1.1 million homes above the energy breadline[2]
  • Millions of electricity only consumers are yet to see a single reduction, as suppliers continue to refuse to cut standard electricity tariffs
  • uSwitch.com is repeating calls for suppliers to urgently pass on double-digit reductions to consumers to reflect falls in wholesale gas and electricity prices.

Big six energy suppliers have failed to lift 1.1 million homes above the energy breadline by failing to pass on double digit cuts in wholesale energy prices, according to a new analysis by uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service[2].

The new figures, published the day before the final big six standard tariff price cut takes effect, reveal that the average standard big six dual fuel bill will fall by just 2.7% or £30 a year[1].

Before the round of cuts, almost 5.1 million households were spending a staggering 10% or more of their annual income on energy[2]. But, despite wholesale energy falling to a five-year low at the start of the year[3], the recent reductions will raise just 300,000 homes above the energy breadline[2]. Yet standard gas and electricity tariff cuts of 10% or £120 – more in line with wholesale energy reductions – would benefit an additional 1.1 million households[2].

SSE’s 5.3% cut to standard gas prices comes into force tomorrow (29th March) and follows similar cuts this winter by big six rivals[1]. But millions of electricity only customers are yet to see a single reduction to standard prices, despite the fact that wholesale electricity costs fell by a staggering 23% last year[3].

It is estimated that 70% of customers or 18.5 million homes are on standard variable energy tariffs[4]. Rather than relying on this winter’s round of meagre price cuts to save money, switching to cheaper fixed deals are saving the average customer £337 per year – more than at any point since 2009. Ofgem recently calculated that 6.1 million domestic energy supply accounts were switched in 2015, up 15% since 2014 and saving a collective £957 million[5].

Big six standard variable price changes 2016

Supplier Average dual fuel standard tariff before 2016 price cuts Average dual fuel standard tariff after 2016 price cuts
British Gas £1,075 £1,044
E.ON £1,079 £1,057
SSE £1,089 £1,057
EDF Energy £1,100 £1,069
npower £1,110 £1,077
ScottishPower £1,113 £1,081
Average big six £1,094 £1,064

Source: uSwitch.com. Prices based on an average energy consumption on a Direct Debit tariff.

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “Once again consumers are being short-changed by meagre big six price reductions. Whilst any price cut is welcome, the average big six standard tariff bill has fallen by just £30 a year – less than half a tank of petrol.

“With wholesale energy costs tumbling, it’s hard not to see these cuts as token gestures. Worryingly, they will have little effect in reducing the burden of sky-high energy bills which still affect more than 4.7 million households across the country.

“We urge suppliers to look again at what more they can do to pass on double digit dual fuel reductions to their customers. In the meantime, consumers should take control of their own bills by checking if they can find a better deal by switching energy tariff or supplier.”

— ends —

Notes to editors

  1. See table in main body of the press release summarising big six suppliers’ price reductions in 2016. All prices quoted are based on a medium user customer using 3,100 kWh of electricity and 12,500 kWh of gas, on a dual fuel plan, paying by Direct Debit with bill size averaged across all regions and all big six suppliers.
  1. Analysis carried out by economic consultancy Europe Economics. Europe Economics constructed indicators of fuel poverty and vulnerability using the latest income and actual pricing data available at the time of its analysis in January/February 2015. This data related to October 2014. The study is based on a model including around 2,700 representative households. In order to estimate the index, three ONS sources were used:

Family Spending 2014. The report sets out average disposable incomes and spending on domestic energy by disposable income decile, age of reference person band and region or country in 2013.

Energy components of the Consumer Price Index. The component for domestic fuels is used to scale up energy spending to October 2014 (the most recent month for which data is available).

Average Weekly Earnings. The index is used to scale up disposable incomes to October 2014. While this assumes that disposable incomes rise in line with average earnings, and does not account for benefits changing at different rates and the effects of the tax system, it should be a reasonable proxy over the relatively short period from the 2013 average to October 2014.

  1. Source: ICIS Power Index (IPI) 2016
  1. Total number of households in the UK is 26.4 million (ONS, Families & Households, 2013) x 70% (number of households on standard tariff – source: Competition and Markets Authority) = 18.5m homes.
  1. Average saving per account (gas only/electricity only/dual fuel gas and electricity) of uSwitch.com customers during 2015 was £156.85 x number of accounts switched in 2015 (Ofgem figures) is 6,100,000 = £957m.

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.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m 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.

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 Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.

uSwitch comments on increased British Gas profits

gas-cooker-kitchen-energy-230x230

Responding to this morning’s announcement that pre-tax profits at British Gas’ residential energy supply arm rose 31% to £574m last year from £439m in 2014, Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “Hearing news of rising profits when wholesale energy prices have tumbled will leave many British Gas customers wondering if they’re being treated fairly.

“British Gas has cut standard gas prices three times in the last past year, but it should now go further and reduce electricity bills too. We are still waiting for the big six to explain why they have continued to ignore standard electricity prices in recent price cuts.

“Seeing a major supplier report increased profits at a time of sustained low wholesale prices should strengthen the Competition and Markets Authority’s determination to fix the broken energy market. We are urging the CMA to put forward bold recommendations to get more consumers shopping around for energy to increase competition, lower prices and improve customer service.

“In the meantime, consumers should check to see if they could get a better deal by switching energy tariff or supplier.”

— ends —

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.

Energy customers have the option to create an account to automatically monitor the market and notify them when they can move to a cheaper tariff - making future comparisons even simpler and faster. In 2014, uSwitch saved UK consumers over £112m 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.

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 Notcutt House, 36 Southwark Bridge Rd, London, SE1 9EU.

uSwitch is owned by Zoopla Property Group Plc (LSE:ZPLA), a digital media business that owns and operates some of the UK's most widely recognised and trusted online brands including Zoopla, PrimeLocation, SmartNewHomes and HomesOverseas.