Retail Energy Market: Switching

Energy and Climate Change – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th July 2016.

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Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies Conservative, Eastleigh 12:00 am, 14th July 2016

What assessment she has made of recent trends in the rate of switching in the retail energy market.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I am happy to tell my hon. Friend that switching was at a four-year high in 2015, with 6.1 million electricity and gas switches across the UK. That is an increase of about 15% since 2014. Some 2 million further gas and electricity switches have already taken place between January and March of this year, with 52% of those customers moving to newer suppliers.

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies Conservative, Eastleigh

Will the Minister confirm that the Government are specifically ensuring that those who are in most need or who are financially challenged, including those in my constituency and across the UK who are in need of lower energy bills, are benefiting from an efficient and easier switching regime?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Yes, I can assure my hon. Friend that the Government are acting to do just that. In fact, customers on expensive standard tariffs could save £325 by switching to the cheapest fixed deal, which is why we continue to encourage customers to switch through our big energy saving network initiative.

Photo of Lisa Cameron Lisa Cameron Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Climate Justice)

When trying to compare tariffs, most of them remain incomprehensible, which particularly affects my most vulnerable constituents, including the elderly, the disabled and those with mental health issues. What measures will the Minister take specifically to support the most vulnerable?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The hon. Lady is exactly right that this is a very important area. I reiterate that over the past three years the big energy saving network has reached about 350,000 vulnerable consumers, helping them to reduce their bills by switching. Last year we ran a successful national TV and press advertising campaign, Power to Switch, and more than £38 million was saved by 130,000 households switching energy supplier. We continue to support good organisations such as Citizens Advice, which often hosts such initiatives and works face to face with vulnerable consumers to help them with the process of switching. I urge people who are struggling with fuel bills to give it a try; it really is not too difficult.