|Sir George responds to constituents on the Big Switch
2 Mar 2012
Many constituents have contacted me about the Big Switch.
The Government is determined to ensure that the energy market works in the interests of consumers and this bold new initiative pioneered by Which? is exactly the type of change I would like to see more of. Last year saw big price increases when energy companies passed on the rising international cost of gas to consumers and collective switching can play an important role in handing power back to consumers and helping consumers negotiate a better deal.
I am delighted that the Energy Secretary has established a working group to investigate removing the barriers to collective purchasing. A similar initiative in the Netherlands negotiated a gas and electricity deal for 20,000 consumers and I hope that this success will be replicated in the UK. Alongside this, the Government’s 'Check, Switch, and Insulate to Save' scheme is ensuring that consumers are aware of the potential savings they can make on their energy bills by switching tariff, supplier or payment method. Consumers will now have the right to be switched within three weeks once their cooling-off period has elapsed and energy suppliers will be under a new obligation to speed up their switching processes. I have registered with Big Switch myself.
In addition, Ofgem’s proposals to simplify energy billing will require energy suppliers to offer one standard tariff for each payment type and to publish all their tariffs in the same format to facilitate easy comparison. Consumer research has shown that 85 per cent of consumers tested were able to identify the cheapest tariff in less than a minute when these changes had been made which will open the door to greater consumer engagement in the energy market.
As a member of the Cabinet, I am precluded from signing Early Day Motions.