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Retail Energy: Switching Suppliers

Volume 607: debated on Thursday 24 March 2016

14. What assessment she has made of recent trends in the rate of switching in the retail energy market. (904309)

My Department has taken action to make it simpler and quicker to switch supplier. I am happy to tell my hon. Friend that the number of households switching supplier is increasing—in 2015, it reached a four-year high. The latest figures released by Ofgem show that 6.1 million domestic energy supply accounts were switched in 2015, which is a 15% increase on the 2014 figure.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply and for her assistance in my work with the Behavioural Insights Team on trying to create the receipt of the winter fuel payment letter as a switching point for those who are retired. What further steps are she and her Department going to take to ensure that older citizens in this country are encouraged to switch, because they have traditionally been the hardest-to-reach group?

My hon. Friend is entirely right to focus on that older group, who sometimes are more resistant to switching. I thank him for the help he has given through his work with the Behavioural Insights Team and the Department on ways to encourage more elderly people to switch supplier through our communications to those eligible for winter fuel payments. The Competition and Markets Authority made proposals just last week that are designed to encourage all consumers to switch, including those over 65. The Government have committed to appropriate implementation of the recommendations, following publication of this report in full.