The Government is urging energy providers to bring forward voluntary plans to enable customers to switch to the best deals available, or face legislation which would force them to do so.
In an open letter to the bosses of electricity and gas providers, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne is calling for them to offer their ideas within the next fortnight, with a view to reaching an agreement by the end of the summer. If they remain unable to reach a voluntary deal, Mr Huhne is threatening to use powers in The Energy Bill to impose requirements for companies to make bills clearer and help people save money by switching to the most cost-effective tariffs.
“I want to see a voluntary agreement with the industry this summer, but if this isn’t forthcoming I will use our new powers in the Energy Bill,” said Mr Huhne.
Christine McGourty, director of industry representatives Energy UK, said: “Energy companies have been working closely with DECC this year to trial new ways to encourage customers to engage with our competitive energy market and ensure they are on the best possible deal for them.
“As part of the trials almost two million new bills have been sent to customers and 600,000 information leaflets. The companies are continuing to work closely with DECC to ensure customers get the best possible information on their bills.”
The Government believes around eight million households are paying more than they need to in energy bills, simply because they do not pay by direct debit. With fewer than one in five people a year shopping around and switching from their energy company, people are missing out on the opportunity to save, in some cases, literally hundreds of pounds.