Rising bills see consumers switch energy suppliers

24-08-2006

Recent rises in household energy bills have prompted a record number of consumers to switch suppliers in order to save money, new research has found.

Energy regulator Ofgem said that some 900,000 customers switched gas or electricity suppliers in March, 200,000 more than did so at the same time last year.

The increase in the number of consumers prepared to shop around for a more competitive deal comes amid rising gas and electricity prices in the UK, which have soared by more than 40 per cent over the last two years as a result of growing wholesale energy costs.

In its latest report on the state of competition within the country's energy industry, Ofgem said people were taking advantage of "wide differences" in prices charged by different gas and electricity suppliers.

The industry regulator claims that customers who have never switched supplier before could save up to £110 a year by doing so, with unclaimed savings across Britain thought to amount to around £1 billion.

Ofgem said its latest figures showed that strong competition between residential energy suppliers was continuing to "protect British consumers".

Commenting, Ofgem chief executive Alistair Buchanan said: "Competition is so vigorous that not only can you change your supplier, but you can also choose from a selection of tariffs."

"This variety of options means that there are significant savings to be made for all customers, including those on pre-payment meters," he added.

But consumer group Energywatch told the BBC that the decision of more consumers to switch energy supplies was not a "panacea" to rising gas and electricity prices and stressed that more efforts were needed to secure the UK's future energy supply.

A spokesperson from the Department of Trade and Industry welcomed the report's findings, saying that "it's encouraging that people are making the most of competition in our energy market".

"There are savings still to be made, despite higher prices and increasing prices. I think it's because there are very high prices at the moment."


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